Thursday, September 26, 2013

Life is Good (I turned 30)

I passed from one decade of life into the next.
Cups clanked, water boiled, voices volleyed and I stared up at the dome of the tent above me.
I pulled Sylvan closer.
My little snuggle bug.
My last baby - who hardly is confined within the parameters of a baby anymore.
Ivory slept all night in her own tent.
Her zippered flap just a few feet from mine.

I smelled coffee - breathed deeply:  Life is good.
I shimmied out from under the covers and crawled out of the tent.
Loons raced across the lake.
We were camping with friends and it just happened to be my birthday.

After rounds of breakfast, adult canoe rides, observing never ending dizzying games of tag all the families piled into cars and set out on their respective adventures. We picked up a handful of national forest flyers, a forest service map and we huddled over the lines in the front of our car and picked a spot on the map - Morrell Falls - That is where we will go. 

We picked huckleberries on the way, picnicked on fallen trees, and stepped one foot in front of the other until we were greeted by this view:

Hours later we arrived at the car hungry, tired and ready for a swim.  Ivory had walked almost five miles.  At the camp site, we dipped into the water.   The children splashed, fought over inter tubes, tossed rocks until the sun sank behind the trees. 

The next morning I sat at the shore with my line in the water.  

Sylvan joined me.  We sat. We caught nothing.

I passed from one decade to the next.
Cups clanked, water boiled, voices volleyed under the trees, up the hill, somewhere behind me.
I pulled Sylvan closer.
My little snuggle bug.
My last baby - who hardly is confined within the parameters of a baby anymore.
Ivory slept all night in her own tent.
Her zippered flap just a few feet from mine.
I smelled coffee - breathed deeply:  Life is good.

On a side note:

Gifts:  There was really nothing I wanted...  a pitchfork maybe... that is still on my wish list.  But how romantic is that? - "Hey Honey, I got you that pitchfork you wanted!  You can finally turn that compost pile in an efficient manner."
But after a perfect birthday weekend with no cell phone reception filled with sunshine and laughter, Adam borrowed a truck and drove to Potomac to bring me this:

A super, awesome, fabulous sink that will someday be in our kitchen.  Perfect. Really. Just what I wanted.  (I say this with absolutely no sarcasm!)

AND!  we got to see my favorite band: 

The Polyphonic Spree!!!!  I have been wishing and waiting for them to come to Missoula.
I danced.
I sang.
I laughed.
It was amazing.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Simple Roasted Beet Salad

At our house, this has been the summer of marinated salads.  
The ingredients sourced from our garden: Sweet and Sour Cabbage Salad, Cucumber Salad, Green Bean Salad. Vegetables chopped and dressed and tucked into the empty spaces in the fridge to be eaten hours or sometimes a day or two later.  
Now it is the beet's turn.  

Bright and cheery, this salad is going to be tomorrow's lunch.  

3 or 4 large beets, roasted, peeled and chilled
1 small onion, very thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
basil, parsley (fresh, roughly chopped) and tarragon (I used dried)
salt and pepper (to taste)

Cut the beets in half and then the halves into wedges put into bowl and add the thinly sliced onion.   In a small bowl combine the olive oil, white vinegar, basil, parsley and tarragon.  Whisk to combine the olive oil and vinegar.  Pour over the beets.  Stir, or if your container seals, give it a good shake. Chill for a few hours or over night. Add salt and pepper when serving.

It tastes so good now that I can hardly wait for the full flavor to develop.

And yes - this is also going to be in Ivory's lunch she takes to school tomorrow.


The rain is pattering on the windows.
It is dark outside.
I set the alarm early and reluctantly crawled out of bed.
If I want a few moments to myself I need to take them before the kids wake up and we embark on our get ready for school routine.


My life suddenly has routine: a set bed time, a set up time, a set dinner time, a set we have to be somewhere time.

There are weekdays and weekends and Thursdays are early out days.
Ivory walks out of the big red brick building at two instead of three.
There is an extra hour of sunlight. A precious extra hour of warmth and light in our day, and our days have already been getting so much shorter.  The sun late to rise and early to set and it is only September.  It will get so much darker yet.

Last Thursday we walked among tall grasses, spied the bright red berries of wild asparagus, and admired the yellow of the first fallen leaves.

It was warm, and sunny, and almost summer.

The river was cold and lazy. 

I want this to be routine - our Thursday Early Out Routine.
Summer, fall, winter or spring I want that extra hour to be outside in sun, rain or snow.

The rain is still pitter-pattering.
The kids need woken up.
It is just me and them, them and me for the rest of the week.
I have had my moment of quiet, of "clear thought" and warm coffee.
Now it is time for pulling on clothes, brushing hair, yogurt and granola and a rain boot march to school - On with the routine.

Monday, September 9, 2013

From the Garden to the Lunch Box

We have been waiting to harvest our carrots.  
This is the first one we harvested. 
The kids pulled it out of the ground.

This carrot is not the sort of carrot you will find at the grocery store. 
It is fat.  
It is huge.  
It has five fingers.  

It is the kind of carrot that makes it into Ivory's lunchbox. 

The carrot is chopped up with peanut butter ready for the dipping.  From-our-garden-cucumber, peach, and a home baked whole wheat bread sandwich  - peach jam (freshly made) and almond chocolate spread - and one tiny chocolate oatmeal cookie round out the rest of the lunch.

I like this school lunch thing.

More on the lunch box:

This is Ivory's Planet Box.  I ordered it for her this summer.  It has woodland fairy magnets and a purple lunch bag in which it rides to and from school.   I know they are pricey, but I view it as an investment.  It is stainless steel, has few pieces that can get lost (the fairy magnets and the two round containers that nest in the main compartments), is fun and easy to fill with a yummy lunch.  Hopefully, this will be the lunchbox she uses for all of elementary school.  I purchased it on the recommendation of an amazing mama who's lunch box escapades are marvelous.   (And since I bought Ivory's the Planet Boxes have become available locally at Walking Stick Toys!  Whoohoo!!!)

Labor Day Weekend

A dark ring is left behind in the tub.
The bathroom sink is spattered with mud.

The kitchen counter is lined with 10 quart jars of peaches, 6 pint jars of cucumber chips, 4 half pint jars of peach jam of fresh out of the oven bread.  Seven jars of dilly beans and 5 pint jars of honeyed bread and butter pickles have already been stashed away on the shelf.  Trays of dehydrated kale and basil are still in the dehydrator needing to be packed away.

This isn't exactly how I imagined our Labor Day Weekend.
I was hoping for lazing by a river or walking in the woods, but instead I spent most of three days in the kitchen while Adam crawled around in the space below my feet.

"You want some coffee?" I shout down at him.
"No.  I will just have to come up and pee."
A little while later I hear from below me: "Sure, I will take some coffee.

I shift a few pots around and put the kettle on.
The water is back on after Adam had rerouted all the plumbing to make room for the twelve foot beams that now steady our kitchen floor.  The washer drain is connected again and I start a load of kitchen rags and towels.

Adam was finally ready to put the beams under the house.
I had 40 lbs of peaches sitting on my chest freezer.
Reality hit: We were going no where.

So, the kids played outside.
Sylvan naked, except for the brief hour or so he flaunted a pair of elmo underwear.
Ivory rotating through a variety of dress up outfits...  carrying a complacent chicken with her everywhere.

Our labor day weekend was full of - well - labor, but as the ring around the bathtub attests too, it was also a really good time.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Egg-less! Apple Cider Pancakes

A small piece of paper torn form a Red Lion Hotels notepad has been floating around my kitchen for the better part of two weeks.
It has been clothes pinned to my cooling rack above my kitchen counter. 
It has been shuffled under papers on the catch all corner. 
It has been used almost daily for the last week and a half.
I am afraid I am going to lose it in the shuffle.
Scribbled on it is a recipe for Egg-less Apple Cider Pancakes.
A recent experiment that turned out to be fantastic. 

Ivory, Sylvan, a few more kiddos (10 total), two mamas and I gathered the early fruits of a transparent apple tree, passed them through the hopper and pressed fresh apple cider. 

This left me with a giant bowl of sweet, fresh and delicious cider.
We sipped cups of the thick juice, but eventually the kids stopped asking for it and I still had a bowl full left.  
What to do with all that juice taking up valuable space in my fridge? 

The solution: make pancakes.

and more pancakes

and more pancakes. 

These are what Ivory has been asking me to make for breakfast before school. (SCHOOL!?!?!?!? How is that possible?) 

They are quick, vegan, have no additional sugar and are a hit with my family. 

Of course, since I don't actually adhere to a vegan or sugar free diet I promptly covered them with sour cream and maple syrup (maple syrup counts as sugar right?) ... but hey, there are other options for toppings.  

Picture to come soon. 
The camera is currently under the house in my husband's pocket... where he is replacing the bottle jacks that are currently supporting the new beams running under our kitchen with posts.  I have no desire to crawl down there at this moment.

Here is the picture (only a week later):

Egg-less! Apple Cider Pancakes

1 1/4 cup apple cider
3/4 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt 
2 teaspoons baking powder
  • cook as you would any other pancake.  

Floor update:
I just jumped on the kitchen floor.  It didn't bounce and nothing rattled!  Amazing!!!!