Saturday, August 7, 2010

inspired internet: july 2010

Yosemite Asters

Better late than never, my July Inspired Internet list. Clearly, I had food on the brain!

health and beauty:
  • Renee's (FIMBY) summer skin care update and recipes!
  • Renee (FIMBY) also has an herbal insect bite remedy. Mike and Isabella got covered in mosquito bites while at the lake, so this caught my eye!
needles crafts:
home & garden:
This struck me as a mini, living Christmas tree, decorated with blue dragonflies. Can you see them all?

Erin, of Wild as Weeds, honored me with a Sunshine Blogger Award. I am really touched, thank you, Erin! Below are the 12 blogs I came up with, to pass the award along to. Below the list are the rules that go along with the award. Narrowing was difficult (I know...blah blah, blah) and I know there are plenty of blogs I left out, because I regularly read and comment on many more than these. In fact, I went back and forth a number of times about whether or not I should even continue to send this award along. (I dislike anyone feeling left out!) These are first 12 I came up with that leave me feeling calm and warmed (like sunshine) when I read them. I tried to be pick blogs that were not the "top 5" (you know who they are), perhaps leading some of you to lovely blogs you haven't read before.

There is such a wonderful community of amazing and inspiring bloggers. I feel so lucky to have happened into this group of people. You all, through your blogs, your comments (here and elsewhere), and your emails have made my life more thoughtful and inspired. Thank you!

Awardees, in no particular order:
  1. Fields and Fire (Adrie)
  2. All I Really Need (Missy)
  3. A Journey to a Simple Happy Life (Imene)
  4. By Hand at Home (Kendra)
  5. Turkey Cookies (Jessica)
  6. Small Things (Ginny)
  7. A Small Tribe (Marina)
  8. Beauty and Joy (Misha)
  9. Once Upon a Parent (Annie)
  10. Young Ones (Kerry)
  11. Serendipitous Intentions (Lily)
  12. Gypsy Forest (Stephinie)
To accept this award, you have to :
1) Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
2) Pass the award onto 12 bloggers.
3) Link the nominees within your post.
4) Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5) Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

Friday, August 6, 2010

first day

My little brown mouse began preschool this week. I wanted to take a photo of him on his first day, but he wouldn't let me. So big sister, Lala, said "Come on Finnian. Come stand next to sister. We can take the photo together." He came right over and sat down next to her.

It was an emotional day for this mamma. This is just the kind of event that tugs my heartstrings. Despite the fact that he will only attend 2 days per week, preschool feels like a big step. My baby is already a preschooler! "I a big kid!"

His first day was a little big rough. When he saw me at pick-up, he stood paralyzed and burst into tears. I had to come over and pick him up, at which point I got the biggest hug, some huge sobs, and then some smiles. In the end, after that release of relief to see me, it sounds from him as though he had a good time.

The preschool staff, several of whom know us and Lala from when Lala was at their other campus as a toddler, encouraged us to bring Lala along and leave her with them for his first couple of weeks, so she is there if he needs her and to help him transition. Lala, who is the most amazing and nurturing of big sisters, agreed.

So right now, my big girl has taken her little brother off to his second day at preschool. I am so proud of them both.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

crafting on the go

There is no power at the lake. (No hot water, no bathroom, no shower, no phone, either.) And when we spend time at the lake, we have to hike everything up to the cabin, after we have boated it in across the lake. (We have to hire a shuttle boat for the gear, because we only possess paddle boats.) Everything really does mean everything. Food, clothes, personal items for 7 people for 9 days. Needless to say, I had to pick my crafting supplies carefully and I couldn't lug along a portable sewing machine, my craft of choice. In the end, I brought my camera, knitting needles, embroidery supplies, one huge piece of fabric, and fabric markers. And two books. Sounds like a lot, but it was all quite compact in my day pack.

Some of you might recognize this knitting from last year. Yes, an entire year later, no other knitting projects happening, and still not done. I am the worlds slowest knitter. In fact, knitting has taught me several things, one of which is that I really love crafts that provide instant gratification and knitting is not one of those. So while I am loving learning to knit, I am content to work on one project slowly, meanwhile distracting myself with other, faster crafts.

I have been wanting to properly learn how to embroider after gifting my parents with an embroidered (if you could call it that) piece last Christmas. So I brought a how-to book and supplies, with an extra hoop in case my mom wanted to join me. She did. It was so enjoyable to embroider alongside her, mom teaching me stitches and techniques as we went. In the end, I completed this sampler, learning to choose my number of threads and needle type to match the fabric and stitch, and learning the following stitches: chain, outline, cross, back, running, and french knot.

Isabella admired it along the way, made design requests (although she wanted me to stitch the word "love" not my word of choice, "calm." I stuck with calm because of its meaning to me right now and the number of letters with curves to practice!), and asked that it be hung in their room when I was done. I couldn't ask for a nicer beginner compliment than that!

I brought fabric and fabric pens for the kids, the result of which will be a creation I share soon. It was the perfect craft for an inside project during a thunder storm.

And my dad, with interjections from my brother, both skilled amateur photographers, sat down, made a list of camera skills I wanted to learn, read my manual, and then gave me lessons.

Below is a sampling of practice shots. In some cases, you will see two of the same photo, but they are slightly different as I made adjustments to depth of field, speed, aperture, or metering, etc. and as I changed lenses. These photos are all straight out of the camera, no editing.

And when I wasn't crafting (or hiking, paddling, swimming, eating, or helping with food prep or clean-up), I was reading. Reading falls into my craft time, or perhaps both, along with computer time, are lumped into "me" time. My book of choice this time (which I have been reading on and off for some time now and still haven't yet finished) was A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. It is a wonderful book and was a perfect choice for our setting.

What are you making and reading these days?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


We are so very lucky to have family nearby. Yes, it has its challenges, but we chose to live where we do, despite my longing to live other places, despite its expense, because all of our family is nearby and we wanted our children to grow up knowing their grandparents.

Isabella still talks about Papa regularly. He died shortly before Finnian was born, so she tells Finn all about the Papa she knew and remembers. And they both get to spend time with Granny Annie, Uncle Brien, Aunt Katie, Uncle Stian, Grandma, and Nonno.

All three remaining grandparents celebrate their birthdays within 10 days of each other. We celebrated Granny Annie's 70th before we left for the lake (although it happened while we were gone.) We celebrated Nonno's 65th while we were at the lake, complete with our annual, traditional peach cream pie (which was a pain to cook in the horrid oven up there, but still tasted pretty darn good), and today, we celebrate Grandma's 67th. Happy belated birthday, dad, and Happy Birthday today, mom!

Spending time with family is such a gift, and our week last week was overflowing with it. The kids clearly adore Uncle "Teeon" and appreciate him for his strengths. They screeched in glee "harder, faster Uncle 'Teeon'" when Stian was paddling the canoe, and his hand is always helpful when hiking.

And Grandma and Nonno shared binoculars, iPods, and cameras so the kids could see, hear, and journal about flowers and birds. Grandma had all the makings for colored noodle jewelry and invitations for wildflower walks, complete with flower pressing. Nonno stopped at the sporting goods store to make sure Finn had his own fishing pole like big sister. (Like "ditta" (sister) is very important these days.)

We know how lucky we are. Thank you, family!

(By the way, we made fun of my dad with his Sheik bandanna look, but no-one had a good alternative solution to his dilemma, despite all the samples of our own we offered up and had him try. Does anyone know of a quality outdoor sun protection for the head that isn't too hot and shades both the face and neck? My dad's hair is very thick, so he favors a visor, yet the sun was so brutal a couple of the days that he added the bandanna to protect his neck without roasting his head with a hat.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

a little more

The first days and nights away, I felt small, useless, melancholy. As if nothing I had to say was of any interest to anyone. The words that came, especially with regard to my children, were harsh and were fruitless, ignored. If I am the one with my children all of the time, surely it must be I that is teaching them the poor manners as well as the ones I am proud of. Moments of being stunned into complete lack of knowledge or ideas on how to stop, fix, and prevent behaviors and situations I found myself in with them.

Sheer exhaustion at the repetitiveness of it all.

Have you ever felt like this?

By the time we began our vacation, it wasn't just my parenting that was lacking. It was my entire being. I didn't like the way I was parenting. I was struggling to be the wife, daughter, sister, and friend I wanted to be. I wasn't liking myself.

My munchkins made a fort on the deck with a little help from Grandma

It is amazing what a little calm, a little nature, a little exercise, masses of wildflowers, mountain stars, sunsets, and a little extra sleep can do. I am not all thornless roses now, but I came back into balance and found a little perspective.


Our time at the lake each summer is like a gauge. It reminds me, with its precision, just how quickly time is passing. It is a marker on the calendar against which I have noted so many things. I can remember most of the books I have read at the lake from years prior. I was pregnant with both kids up there and remember hiking with both, sitting low and slowing me down. I remember the hike with baby Finnian strapped to my back, Mike miles away at work, and my dad at my side, fruitlessly trying to talk Lala out of the biggest temper tantrum she has ever had. That was the same summer Finnian permanently ruined some of his clothes, crawling through the dirt. I remember the year, many before Mike, that Stian swam across the lake, and the year many before that, when I was Lala's age, going for a candle lit paddle around the lake with other lakers.

A pre-bed, pajama, wildflower walk. Isabella says "Aren't they beautiful, Mamma?" Finn Luca says "These are for Lily!" (Yosemite Asters)

We borrow the place from family friends. We are still included, but several spots removed now that my parents' friend, the cabin owner and patriarch, has passed away, and it was this year that is struck me that our annual time here may not continue in this way forever.

This year, it struck me how big my little kids are becoming. Isabella knew where everything was, remembered the rules, knew what was what. She was eager to get into the water daily and she took our basic family 2 mile uphill hike in stride. Even Finnian hiked most of it. And that little brown mouse...he figured out the rules and how to break them very quickly. He cried off and on all the way home when we explained we were going home. "No, I go back to da cabin!"

In the same bittersweet way I realize how quickly they are growing, I look forward to the years to come, hoping they come, when the kids can head out, on their own, for a paddle around the lake or a hike up the trail.

My little brown mouse loves to sweep. He spent a good deal of time sweeping dirt.

Monday, August 2, 2010

home again!

We are home again. I am not sure my presence here has been missed, in part because I left scheduled posts (blogging is so very weird - not sure I will do that again!), but a lifetime has passed, I feel as though I have so much to catch up on with all of you, and in my real life, one of my best friends had baby girl while we were away! Welcome to the world sweet Marian!

When I physically left you all, I had just finished reading A Gift from the Sea. I could not have known, even then upon finishing it and posting as I did, how truly suited it was to where I was and where I needed to go. Well, I went. Offline this time meant 9 days away at my very favorite place - a lake on the edge of wilderness, where we must hike or boat all the supplies we might need for our time away. A place my parents have been taking us (a growing "us") since my older brother was 6 months old. A place with calm, a word that has meant more to me this year than I could imagine.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn. ~John Muir

I couldn't know when leaving that I was wound up so tightly that it would take half the trip to unwind. That it was an entire day of hiking without children (thank you, Grandma and Nonno!) to find that calm, or at least a taste of it. That day, Mike, Stian, and I hiked and hiked. The view from the top of the mountain was incredible. (As was the view from the other peak we hiked, two days later.) I have only images in my head, as the battery to my camera died a mere 3 days (but 1000 photos!) into the trip.

It is a different rhythm up there. Wake with the light, head outside, only to head back in when the mosquitoes and dark overcome again. Paddle, swim, hike, nap, read, eat. Repeat.

I am going to try and hold onto that in my mind now. Here are some photos to help me do that...

My bigger hiker, so able now
Hiking, sometimes with an extra load when he pooped out.
All of us at "the" photo spot
A rain dance put the mountain thunder fears to rest
Coffee. And chocolate Trivial Pursuit
Eating outside. Every single meal.
Getting in the water. A lot. (A manageable feat this year as the lake was unusually warm.)

Friday, July 30, 2010

cheesy noodles

I am on vacation and offline. I am not sure how to shut off Intense Debate comments, so you are welcome to leave a comment, but I won't be able to reply or reciprocate until I return from vacation!

Lala calls macaroni and cheese "cheesy noodles." It is a treat for her, because we don't buy it often and had never come up with a simple mock homemade version until now. Here is how Mike makes these extremely tasty cheesy noodles.

Cheesy Noodles
  • 1 cup cheese, finely grated. (We have used a variety, but the best so far was a mix Parmesan and mozzarella)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1/4 cup (plus a little bit) half n' half or whole milk. (You need the fat in the half n' half or whole milk to help the blending, so this is preferable to lower fat milks. Less fat makes the noodles less creamy and more grainy.)
  • 1/2 pound pasta (We use any short, whole wheat pasta.)

In a bowl, mix the cheese, salt, and flour well.

Cook the pasta. While hot, add the half n' half to the pasta, then stir in the cheese mixture well.
You want to move quickly once the pasta is cooked, to get everything to blend and melt well.

If at this point the cheese is stringy, add fluid; more half n' half, or even water will work fine.

Make sure everything is mixed, then serve!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I am on vacation and offline. I am not sure how to shut off Intense Debate comments, so you are welcome to leave a comment, but I won't be able to reply or reciprocate until I return from vacation!

Dum spiro, spero (Latin)
"While I breath, I hope."

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow."
Albert Einstein

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

vegan tacos

I am on vacation and offline. I am not sure how to shut off Intense Debate comments, so you are welcome to leave a comment, but I won't be able to reply or reciprocate until I return from vacation!

We love Mexican style food at our house and Mike is a superb cook. Recently, he came up with this nutritious, tasty vegan taco recipe.

Vegan Tacos
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup zucchini, shredded
1 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein), reconstituted
1 tablespoon chili powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
red cabbage, chopped
optional: red pepper flakes, fish sauce, tomatoes, bell pepper, or additional vegetables
corn torillas

Saute the first 6 ingredients (all but the red cabbage) in a pan until barely cooked. Add the raw chopped cabbage.
In a separate pan, warm the corn tortillas.
Add the filling to the tortillas and serve!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I am on vacation and offline. I am not sure how to shut off Intense Debate comments, so you are welcome to leave a comment, but I won't be able to reply or reciprocate until I return from vacation!

In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful.

~Alice Walker

Keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand art more and more.

~Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, July 26, 2010


I am on vacation and offline. I am not sure how to shut off Intense Debate comments, so you are welcome to leave a comment, but I won't be able to reply or reciprocate until I return from vacation!

Due to our bounty, I thought I would share my mom's fabulous zucchini bread recipe, but it seems I already did...about a year ago. I made some to bring with us on our trip. Yum!


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