Monday, April 30, 2012

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Last night the boys and I went and saw Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which is a documentary on Jiro, who is a renown sushi chef.  It is a wonderful portrayal of what it takes to turn out the finest sushi - from the hours of prep work, to the collaboration of fish and rice vendors, and finally, assembling the ingredients with the quest of perfection and improvement always in the mind.

We were inspired by the movie, and some of the wonderful concepts it brought up.  For example - one needs to fall in love with one's work in order to excel.  How many times have we whined about our jobs, instead of looking at it, and saying to ourselves "How far can I bring this work down the road of excellence?", or "At the end of the day, can I truly say I gave it my best".  I feel this is a wonderful way to approach all areas of life, not just in work.

Another idea was Jiro stated that in order to make good food, you have to eat good food.  How can you make delicious meals without acquiring the sensitivity of taste that goes along with eating well.  You all know that we love our food down here, but like many, there are plenty of nights where pb&js, or a pizza call.  I am inspired by this attitude, and hope to incorporate more simple, yet appealing foods in our diet.  It seems to boil down to having good fresh ingredients, and care in preparation, more than being elaborate or fussy.  Works for me!

After the show, we all were craving sushi and off we went to a wonderful little place where we got to satisfy our urge.  Both J. and A. love their sushi, but J. in particular salivates over the fresh pieces of fish atop of the rice.  Watching the boys eat with relish, Big J. commented that they might get him to convert yet.  That night, he stuck with a bento box that had grilled salmon and other wonderful treats.  Maybe next time.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

take your child to work day

Last week, A. discovered that there was a take your child to work day event and he wanted to participate.  Once J. found out about it, he wanted to go as well.  So, Big J. cleared some time to have the kids join him and see what his work was about.

Here they are.  Top picture is of serious, hardworking employees.  Bottom picture is of them being goofy.
After I picked them up, I asked about how their day went.  They were impressed with the co-worker who flew his remote controlled helicopter, the cafeteria with ginger mints sitting out to be munched, the copier, the printer, and the plotter.  They were less than impressed having to sit thru a meeting with their dad.  Their overall impression - Dad had a boring job with confusing language surrounding it.  But at least he got to play with toys and eat candy at work.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Look, See, Imagine ballet performance

Yesterday, I took the boys to see Hear! See! Imagine! Dance! put on by the Oregon School of Ballet.  I had bought the tickets awhile ago, and when the kids found out we were going to another ballet performance, they weren't very thrilled.  A. said it was lucky that at least we got to go out for sushi afterwards.

The performance was held in the Antoinette Hatfield hall, which is just lovely.

One thing they like is this wonderful chair/statute/art work in the main lobby.  One thing I like is the little sign next to it saying Please, take a seat. It's so nice to have a beautiful piece of art that they encourage children to engage in.
Once the performance started, I could see the boys light up as it continued.  There was a classic piece done to Mozart, than an interesting African/European blended dance, and then a funny piece where the performers gave impressions of animals through their movements and costumes.  The kids said they really enjoyed this type of ballet, and that they'd like it see more of the style represented in this performance.  I really liked it too.  I think this field trip saved ballet's reputation for them.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I have lilies!

Grandpa Ward and Margaret came down this week and visited with us after checking out the lilac gardens and tulip fields in Woodland.  They were able to catch J.'s baseball game, go out to lunch together, get some good visiting in, and of course, a bit of lemon meringue pie was eaten too.

At the lilac gardens, Grandpa picked up some lilies for us.  He got Merostar and Rialto, and I am so excited to plant them.
Merostar Oriental Lily Image

They are supposed to be fragrant, and should bloom this summer near the end of it.  I plan on putting them in pots as it was mentioned that some critters might find the bulbs tasty, and I already am having issues with all my tulip bulbs getting eaten.


We enjoyed such a fun visit, and have such wonderful flowers to look forward too.  To quote my Grandfather Earl, "I lead the good life!".

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Raclette was served

Last Tuesday we were invited to a friend's house for dinner.  She was raised in Switzerland and served us a traditional meal called Raclette, which comprised of baby red potatoes that you would add melted cheese to, along with pickled onions, and cucumbers, and spices such as dill.  They had two round Raclette grills, and individual small pans where you would put your selection of cheeses on and melt to pour over your vegetables.  Once poured, you could either heat up more cheese, or place the hot pan on a little wooden board in front of you.  Everyone had their own wooden wedge to push the cheese from the pan, as well as a round three tonged utensil for getting potatoes and pickles.

 It was fantastic!  We enjoyed the meal so much, and it was really fun to assemble and cook your meal.  After all the other kids disappeared from the table to play, A. was still sitting there heating up cheese until bubbly and brown and then munching it down, until he was about ready to pop!

I am now wanting one of these grills so that I can make this at home.  Our hosts mentioned that they usually only eat it during the cooler months as the heat let off can really warm a room. We definitely felt the room getting warmer, but as it was a cool evening, it felt very nice and cozy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

a new bed for J.

J. told us that he wanted a bigger mattress, as he felt he was getting too big for the twin.  When he was demonstrating to me how small it was, another problem became readily apparent - there was a spring sticking out of the bed!!  When asked how long it has been like that, J. replied as long as he can remember.   Poor kid - I felt so bad finding out about this, and Big J. and I decided to rectify the situation.

On Monday after work, Big J. purchased a new full sized mattress for J.  and told us we would be picking it up Tuesday evening.  In order to get the bigger bed in his small room, there was some serious purging that needed to be done.  J. was a trooper and excitedly got rid of many things to make way for his new bed - including his spare dresser that he didn't want to part with until now.

On the way to get the mattress, we stopped at the store and let him pick out new sheets, and a comforter (both on sale - yay!).
Tonight we will be putting it up on cinder blocks and plywood temporarily until we find a frame we like.  Sounds like auction time!

J. snuggled right in.  I'm surprised how small he looks on his new bed.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

hopes for hatching

Arthur has a sweet Wyandotte named Cat who has gone broody.  Last summer she went broody, and a friend told me that you can stick young chicks underneath the hen at night and she will adopt them.  With some trepidation, I tried it, and it worked wonderfully, as written about in this post.  She raised two batches of chicks that same summer with this method.  I loved it because it was so natural for chicks to be raised by a mom, a ton less work for me, and Cat was the best of mothers to these little orphans.

Now that she is interested in being a mom again, the boys and I planned a trip to the farm store to pick up some chicks for her.  After a bit of reflection, I realized that she had been laying on this batch of eggs for quite some time.  Looking at the calendar, I saw that they ought to hatch sometime later this week.  Unlike last year when the eggs were sterile and hatching was not an option, we have two roosters now, so there is a great chance that the eggs might be fertile.  We decided to cross our fingers and hope that her batch of eggs hatches.  If not, we can always give her some chicks.  But it would be so wonderful if they did.  It would be our first hen hatched chicks.

Monday, April 23, 2012

damage done

My wallet didn't go unscathed this weekend.  Being around two tree sales and all the things that go with them put it in a tailspin.  It was so worth it though!  Here's what I picked up:

2 Bing Cherries
1 Black Tartarian Cherry
1 Montmorancy Cherry
1 Bartlett Pear
1 Flemish Beauty Pear
2 Santa Rosa Plums
2 Dahlia tubers
1 purple table grape
lavender mint
orange mint
chocolate mint (mine disappeared)

Add to this plants that Connie gave me:
6 tomato plants
mustard greens
shasta daisies

And I am set for a very busy and very fun week of planting all these wonderful items!  At this rate, my little farm will be ship shape and productive with all sorts of fantastic things before I know it.  How lucky can I possibly be?!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

trees galore

I am so excited!  I have many cool trees to plant.  To kick it all off, I picked up two blue spruce at the Farm Forestry Sale.  Then the Lynchs' brought me six snowball trees and a pile of Douglas Fir.  From the Annual Grange Tree Sale, I have a Gravenstein Apple and  four Italian Prunes.  Today and tomorrow I will be selling trees all day as a fundraiser for both Fargher Lake Grange (today) and Fern Prairie Grange (tomorrow).  I am happy with all the trees I have, but I am not sure I will be able to resist getting one or two more.  I have my heart set on an ultra dwarf self fertile Bing Cherry, and a Mock Orange.  Of course, a Montmorancy Cherry would be nice, and I'd kind of like to check out a Cortland Apple too.  And yesterday Maxine brought bay trees to sell!  Oh man - how can I resist.  I need these!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

shoe quilt

This fabric with shoes and flower vases called out to me one day at a quilt shop, and I decided to make a lap quilt out of it.  I love how cheerful and bright it ended up being.  I donated it to the food bank's annual tea and auction, which is in a few weeks.  Sooooo, if any of you want to come an enjoy a fun day while supporting the food bank, let me know and I'll hook you up with the details!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

gardening with the juniors

Our grange has recently decided to host a junior grange for all the kids that come to the meetings.  We are  pretty much doing the same stuff as always, but by being official, it lets the children have more opportunities to get involved.

At our last meeting, everyone got to plant their own personal gardens.  We supplied all the pots, dirt, seeds, labels, and boxes to bring them home in.  The kids supplied a huge amount of excitement and energy.  Some planted one of everything, while others stuck with a few basics.

They really seemed to love this project, and I'm so glad we held it for them.  Next month - birdhouses!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

around the Lynch farm

After feeding Elvira the other day, we gamboled about the Lynch farm.  We loved checking out these huge fir trees.  Here are the four of us for a size comparison.

And here are the guys attempting to show the girth on another tree nearby.  We're all tree huggers!

The boys found a hole in the center of this large stump and were putting a stick down in it to see how deep it went.  Their stick got swallowed up before they found the bottom.

I love this view of the pasture with the old barn.

The picture above is of a large beaver dam.  It is really hard to tell, but there is water above the dam that is smooth like a pond, and below it the water becomes more creek like, as shown here:

There were lots of other sighting such as a barn kitty pretending to be an opossum, old farm equipment, plants, elk, and other various critters. We enjoyed seeing it all on our walk and look forward to another visit soon to hike up into the woods where we hope to spy an old cabin.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

feeding Elvira

Earlier this past week, we learned that our friends the Lynches had lost three heifers.  Of these, one left behind a newborn calf that they rescued and have been bottle feeding it.  I wanted to go see this sweet little girl, and when the boys heard about her, they asked if they could help feed her.  With permission granted to do just that, we got up there for the morning feeding.

Bill had the boys read the instructions on how to make up formula for the calf, who has been named Elvira, and let them go ahead and mix it up.

Off to the barn to meet Elvira.

Elvira was so sweet and darling, that collective awws were heard on seeing the black beauty.  Of course, we all wanted to feed her.  At only 5 days old, I was surprised at how strong she was.  It was a task trying to hold the bottle still for her.

When the feeding was done, she tried to climb up the hay bales to escape her pen and be with everybody.  My heart melted and I began daydreaming about taking her home with me.  Luckily, she is in excellent hands and I can visit her again.

Monday, April 16, 2012

my fella is super cool

On Saturday, after the big game, we felt like celebrating a bit.  With the weather so nice, a BBQ sounded ideal.  So, the kids and I went off to the store and got everything we needed for the event.  Once we got home and explained to Big J. our dinner plans, he sadly informed us that we no longer have a Little Smokey to grill on.

Being ever resourceful, he said, "Don't worry, I'll come up with something", and off he went.  About 20 minutes later he came back through the kitchen door and announced that he was ready to grill.  Of course, we had to see what he came up with, and him being him, it was crazy cool!

Big J. dug a hole into our northern clay bank, and wedged in the two grill bases that we had.  He built a fire under the bottom grill, and once it was going, added the charcoal.  This gave off plenty of heat for grilling above.
Here is a closer look at his grill.  It worked like a charm and we all munched happily on the perfectly cooked treats.

I mentioned that it would be fun to do another BBQ this evening using his wonderful oven.  He agreed that it would be nice, but mentioned that I need to find the grills first.  Apparently, they have gone missing.  As Snow Bear is our little resident thief, we suspect him of absconding with the grills.  Here's hoping I can find them soon.  If not, I'm sure my cleverest of husbands will think of something.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

baseball season in full swing

J. had a game on Saturday.  It was the second scheduled game, but due to weather, it is the first the team actually played.  He played 3rd base the entire time when it was their turn to be out in the field.  He also got to bat 4 times, and 3 base-hits of the 4 times.  The one time he didn't he was thrown out about a step away from first base.  He also scored once and was stranded twice.  To end it all on a great note, his team won 8 to 2.  Needless to say, he was pleased as punch about how the game went.

Looking fierce.

Post game pep talk.  J. is #13.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

time for dandelions and jelly

A. loves dandelion jelly. I'm not sure if it is the picking of a weed and turning it into something sweet, or the fact I pay him a penny a dandelion that appeals so much to him.  This week, he got very excited to see dandelions were in bloom and promptly picked enough for a batch.  If you want to try it out, the recipe I follow is here.

He watched me closely as I made the jelly, and could hardly wait for it to cool so he could try it out.  Since I've made it, he has almost cleared out a jar's worth.  Good thing dandelions are plentiful!

Friday, April 13, 2012

what's growing

Yesterday the boys and I planted 100 gladiolas and some dahlias.  I have learned from previous seasons that gardening time needs to be kept short and varied for the kids to enjoy the time spent in the dirt.  I have hopes that we will have many wonderful gardening memories down the road, hence, I try to keep this activity as fun as possible.

As they absolutely hate to weed, I went ahead and did the weeding ahead of time, so they only had to help with digging in the bulbs.  Did this ever help!  They worked happily alongside of me and J. mentioned 3 or so times how much he liked gardening with me.  I have no pictures of the bed yet, but when the flowers start coming up, I'll take some.

You may recall that I received a bunch of daffodil bulbs from a grange sale, and the boys had helped me plant them.  Here they are doing well and brightening the corner of my island.  I hope to split them this fall and extend their reach.  Another year or so, I should have the entire island circled with them.

These gorgeous blooms are from my Early Frost Peach tree.  We had our first yield of peaches last summer and they were fantastic.  The annual grange tree sale is coming up on the 21st, and I hope to get another one or two of these trees.  This variety is the only one that has been able to withstand our temperatures (at least out of the ones I have planted).  Very hardy.

I enjoy grape hyacinths, and these came from Maxine Lester, who is a kindred gardener. 

These are Grandpa Ward's raspberries, and they are doing great.  I love the berries off these plants and hope to get some before the incredibly efficient berry eaters find them.

This rhubarb came from Uncle Pete, who got it started off of Grandpa Earl's plant.  Big J. moved it out of the field where it was struggling and placed it in the garlic bed next to the raspberries.  He gave it some worm and rabbit compost tea and it seemed to grow overnight!

As I look around the place, I see more flowers, berries, veggies, herbs, and fruit trees gearing up for the season.  I am always thinking about how much I want to do around here, so it is nice to take the time to reflect on how far we have come.  Happy gardening!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lelooska Cultural Center

One of the best things about homeschooling is the opportunity to go on many field trips.  This time we went to the Lelooska Cultural Center where we got the chance to sit in the ceremonial lodge and watch a performance highlighting the stories and heritage of the Lelooskas, while a fire burned in the center.

There was drumming, singing, dancing, and wonderful handcarved masks worn by the performers to help tell the stories.  We got to hear about the great meeting of the wolf and deer people, the echo spirit, and the spirits of their totem, ending with the bear spirit doing a dance.

Both boys thought that Big J. should have been there for that, and were sure that he would have been very scared of that bear!  In the museum, we found a post card with the dancing bear spirit on it, and decided to purchase it as a souvenir for Big J.  When we gave it to him, the boys were pleased to hear him mention how scary the photo was.

Totem guards

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

feeling like a kid

Yesterday the kids and I joined up with a girlfriend of mine and her children and we all went roller skating.  I hadn't roller skated in so many years that I truly can't pinpoint the exact last time.

A. was sweet and offered to teach me as I was strapping on my skates.  I definitely was far from graceful, but as time wore on, I started to get the rhythm of skating again.  Guess the concept of riding a bike goes with roller skating too.

By the time we were done, my out of shape self had legs of jello and a good sweat going.  Oh, but it was such a blast, that I didn't want to stop.  I can't wait to go again, and it turns out that the rink we went to has a discount for homeschoolers every month.  We will certainly be taking them up on this offer.  After all, who can turn down an opportunity to feel like a kid?!  Too fun!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

painted champagne glasses

For Easter brunch, Mom volunteered to bring Mimosas.  She asked if I had any champagne glasses.  I did not, and this reminded me of a great project I saw here to paint champagne glasses.  We picked up some very economical glasses and got to work.  Once oven cured, these guys are dishwasher safe, which makes them much handier, in my opinion. And they turned out soooo cute!

 I love how they make the drinks look bubbly with the gold fading near the top.  I can't wait to use them again.  This project has inspired me with some other painting possibilities.  When/if I get to them, I'll share with you all.  Cheers!

Monday, April 9, 2012

white wine jelly

I have continued to enjoy making new jams and jellies.  This white wine jelly is another that I have never tried before, but am so glad that I did.  I made it using a French Chardonnay Big J. picked out.  I'm hoping he can remember the brand, as the bottle got recycled before I realized I should have written it down.

Not too sweet, and with a definite wine flavor coming through, it is perfect for a light lunch alongside crackers and cheese.

I am loving having so many jam/jelly flavors floating about.  While I always seem to be stocking the pantry with the latest type, it is surprising to me that the shelves are not bursting with jams.  Guess we do a pretty good job keeping up with the supply.

Sunday, April 8, 2012