Archive | July, 2011

Our New House

30 Jul

We are here!

We have all our stuff in this adorable little house (or in storage) and have settled in.
The house is within walking distance of  downtown and is about a seven minute drive out to the big lake. The girls are getting used to their new surroundings and we are meeting more people, slowly as time passes.

I have decided that for now, the hardest part about uprooting your family is the gap between missing old friends and meeting new friends.

That is where we seem to lie at the moment.  We have met some amazing people here but they cannot fill the hole of the relationships that were built over long years and many momentous occasions.  Deep friendships don’t develop overnight, but it would be nice if they did.

Here are some pictures of our new digs:

I have never seen a more adorable house.

this is the kitchen in the morning, great and happy lighting

Making eggs for breakfast

the living room

The girls each have their own rooms across from the living room.

The town’s grocery store owner is kindly allowing us to stay in his old house since him and his family moved out a while ago.

We are so blessed to live in a place that most people can only vacation.  We can go to the beach at 4:00 on a Tuesday afternoon and have the place to ourselves.  And we don’t have to head back to the cities on Sunday night.

We met a family of four today at the local beach.  The family loves coming up for a few weeks every summer to stay in their cabin.   When they were first married they had contemplated moving up North but they didn’t “pull the trigger.”  Now they have two boys, 12 and 15 and it would be too hard to start over, mostly for the kids with school and friends.  The mom said that they regret it and congratulated us on making the big move when it would be the easiest on the kids….

We feel blessed to be in this beautiful place.  It won’t be flowers and bunnies all the time (especially when it is -45 degrees below zero) but we are ready to make this town our new home.

Goodbye Garden, Lesson 2: Worms Happen

28 Jul

When I first started composting from our home’s kitchen waste I did some reading and discovered that worms are essential to the composting process.  I had heard that there were places I could actually go to buy worms for my compost, but the notion of spending money on soft-bodied invertebrates only to throw them in my organic trash didn’t seem quite right, so I decided to go without worms to see of I could manage without them.

Much to my pleasure, a few weeks into my composting adventure I went to turn the pile and sure enough, when I pulled the pitchfork from the middle of the heap there was a whole mess of dark, luscious worms making themselves at home in my soil factory.  I never thought I would be so excited to see those slimy things.

I’ve also previously written about a time when I visited the garden at night during a rainstorm and found myself among thousands of giant night-crawlers slurping around in the mud, wildly retreating into their canals when my flashlight glanced across them.  It was a cool thing.

If you’ve been gardening for a while, I’m sure you’ve come to know and love your worms, and if you’re fairly new at the process you’ll soon find that worms happen…and its wonderful.

Picnic Basket

25 Jul

Every Monday there is a flea market about fifteen minutes away from my parents house.  A few times this summer we would trek over there to see what treasures we could scrounge up.

If you are okay with sifting through junk and people watching some real characters this is the place to find a few gems.

We found this picnic basket amongst some bottle openers, old melon crates and antique benches.  It is hard to look at junk, junk and more junk and then when you see something that is slightly interesting you don’t know if it is actually something nice or if it is just a nicer piece of junk than you are used to seeing.

This picnic basket caught my eye but I had to show it to my mom and Jared to get their opinions about it.  We brought the girls so we had to perform musical chairs, trading off watching them at the park so we could all have a good look at the basket.  Then we decided to make the purchase.

Jared is my bargainer.  I am extremely horrible at haggling.  I feel guilty and bad and start thinking about the people’s electric bill or the kids they need to send through college and finally end up paying exactly what the price tag said or even more.  Well, not more but never down.  So I have Jared do my negotiating for me.  He is extremely gifted at this process.  He decides before talking to the person how much he will begin at and how much he will be willing to spend in the end.  And he faithfully sticks to these prices.

We bought a few things this day and each and every purchase ended just at we wanted.  Perfect, thanks hunny.

This is the basket we bought: originally it was 19.50 but Jared haggled down to $16, and it even came with some super cute dishes.

the cup nestles into the grooves on the plate

Aleah helped me clean up the basket.  We used some lemon oil and rubbed it into the dry basket and made it look a great deal better.

If that flea market guy had rubbed it down with some lemon oil he could have charged at least twice as much.  Sorry flea market guy.



look at all the dirt coming onto the rags

Before and After Tops


What a great little worker

Sick of Strawberries?

22 Jul

Okay, if you haven’t noticed yet- I am a bit obsessed with strawberries.  But how can I not be???

They were exploding out of our old garden and now it is time to pick them in the fields by my parents house.  Picking strawberries has been a tradition with my family since I was born.

At the particular fields closest to our house you must be ten years old to be able to go picking.  I remember many a hot afternoon when I was growing up, not yet ten, laying in the middle of the car with the windows open and flies buzzing in my ears, wishing, wishing, wishing that I could go and help my mom pick those juicy delicious morsels.  Thinking how dumb it was that they wouldn’t let such a responsible and hardworking eight year old girl help her mom out.  Well, mostly I was bored and wanted to get on with my life.

I recall the first time I was actually allowed into the fields, it was a bit of a let down.  Just like piano lessons.  I had to wait and wait to be able to take piano lessons and to go strawberry picking and then when I was allowed to to both of these things I couldn’t help but be a bit dissapointed.  I remember thinking, this is what I have been dying to do all these years.  Hmmmm.

Besides eating them immediately  here are some fun things to do with the plethera of strawberries surrounding our house.

Squish up some strawberries in a bowl with a potato masher.

Smell the delicious aroma that spews out of the bowl.

Put some Squirt or other maskable beverage like 7Up or Sierra Mist into the bowl of strawberries and mix them together.

Pour the mixture into a popsicle container or a disposable cup with a spoon in the center.

Use tape so the spoon doesn’t tip over and then place it in the freezer for a few hours.

Enjoy- it is one of the most refreshing desserts I have ever had.

Here are a couple pictures of Aleah appreciating my new strawberry treat.

It doesn’t get much better than that.


Camera Strap

18 Jul

I am into instant gratification sewing right now.  Well, I am almost always in that frame of mind- so nothing has really changed.

Anyways, here is a great craft if you only want to spend a short amount of time inside before you hit the lake again.

A camera strap cover:

I am not into advertising for companies.  Have never understood shirts that say in huge letters ADIDAS or AMERICAN EAGLE.  The shirt you are wearing is fine and all but I just don’t need to know where you got it.  This is part of the reason I wanted to cover my NIKON camera strap.  The other reason is because a handmade strap is so much more pleasant to look at =)  Okay, I will climb down off my soapbox here and continue on.

I sewed these fabrics together over a month ago and could not decide what to do with it.

I loved the fabric so much that I wanted to make sure it was something that I would use a lot.  A camera strap cover would be perfect.

All I did to make this was:

1.  Place camera strap, with the right sides of the fabric touching the strap, onto the fabric to measure.

2.  Pin the fabric together so you can only see the wrong side of the fabric.

3.  Sew the fabric together and then turn it inside out.

4.  Fold under and sew the ends of the strap together so it will not fray.

5.  Place your new beautiful strap on your camera and enjoy.

Thrifty Thursday

13 Jul

I may have just scored the thrift of a lifetime.  For me at least =)

We had been in Wisconsin for less than a week and decided to go shopping at the local thrift stores.  More likely than not we find nothing at these stores and head home empty handed.  But this time I scored big time.

I was browsing through the crafting section of the store as Aleah tried on all the shoes and Sophi climbed in and out and in and back out again of a bassinet placed on the floor.  I was half browsing and half cracking up at the things they were finding and doing with them.  And then I spotted it.  A ziplock bag with this:

At first I didn’t know what it was.  I turned it over a few times trying to figure out what it was.  I opened up the back and took out one of the quilting blocks.  It was hand stitched and made with the cutest fabric.  Wow, this must have taken someone forever to make, I thought.  After falling in love with it, I nervously looked for a price tag.  It must be quite expensive since the person who made this must have spent months on it.  I turned the bag over and spotted the price tag:

Are they serious…fifty cents?  I was so pumped!  I tried to hold my extreme enthusiasm and excitement down a bit in fear that they had placed it on the self accidently.  Or perhaps they would want more money for it if they knew how pumped I was about my newfound treasure.

I paid the 50 cents and snuck out the door with the rest of the family.

Drove home and showed it to my mom and she said, “Wow- is this for me?” (umm…we’ll work out those details later.)

She told me that it was an old time way to make a quilt called, Grandma’s Flower Garden.  You take a hexagon and surround it with six other hexagons of another color, and then add onto those six hexagons with yet another color of 12 hexagons.  They were popular in the 1930’s. They were pieced  by hand in the time consuming  method called english paper piecing.

I can’t decide if I should put them all together or put some of them in picture frames.  They are all so beautiful I just want to simply look at them and wonder about the crafty woman who spent so much effort making these gorgeous creations.

Here are a couple great links for more information on the quilt:


Goodbye Garden; Lesson 1: Ice Baths are for more than Sore Muscles

11 Jul

tiny Swiss Chard seedling

 The first few times we harvested lettuce from our garden we simply rinsed it under running water and then let it dry for a short while before eating.  We had a great time enjoying our early summer salads, but no matter how well we rinsed the lettuce, we still got tiny bits of sand and silt in our teeth as we ate.

tiny purple lettuce seedling

This wasn’t a big deal, but I knew there had to be a way to get the lettuce free of dirt.  After speaking with some friends, they suggested we soak the lettuce in a bowl of ice water for about a half-hour or more, periodically swirling the lettuce to allow the dirt to fall off the leaves to the bottom of the bowl.  Not only does the ice bath loosen the dirt from the leaves, it makes the freshly picked lettuce become cool and crisp as it soaks.  Then it’s just another quick rinse under the faucet, shake to dry (or spin if you’ve got a salad spinner), and you’re ready for a yummy dish of freshly picked lettuce, chard, arugula, spinach, and whatever other leafy greens your garden might be pumping out.  

I passed the ice bath trick on to my mom when we visited her in Colorado and enjoyed the delicious lettuce and Kale (pictured in the center row) growing in her garden.  It was fantastic!


Goodbye Garden

8 Jul

Just over a week ago Caitlyn and I laboriously loaded all our life’s belongings into the back of a U-Haul (with the help of many friends, to whom we are extremely grateful), and then said tearful goodbyes to our wonderful community at Bethel Seminary.  Caitlyn stayed back for few days, first cleaning the apartment then working her last few shifts at Lindey’s Steak House, and I drove north that Thursday afternoon, trying not to think of all the things and people I’m going to miss – trying not to go blind with tears while I kept the U-Haul between the stripes and dashes of Interstate 35 and Highway 53.

Goodbyes are usually hard, especially when you’re saying goodbye to the place where you’ve toiled alongside families and neighbors all trying to earn a seminary education while raising kids or making ends meet working late-night jobs with a book in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.  It’s the place where strangers and classmates became our closest community and the place where our girls learned to walk, give fist bumps to the neighbors, and go face-first down the playground slide with a mouth full of dirt, gravel, and dandelions.

Oh…and it’s also the place Caitlyn and I learned to garden on our own – no longer tugging on the shirt-tails of our mothers while we trailed through plants up to our shoulders, we became the ones responsible for turning the earth, caring for tender seedlings, and picking our plump produce in the hot August sun.

Indeed we’ll miss the relationships more than anything, but no doubt our years of effort in the Seminary Community Garden and the wonderful harvests we’ve enjoyed have made that garden a hard place to leave.  As I drove the U-Haul down Bethel Drive for the last time last Thursday, I couldn’t help but look over my left shoulder at the sunny hilltop and feel a sense of sadness, knowing I may never again turn the stinky, rich compost with a pitchfork or pluck cherry tomatoes and toss them into my mouth where they burst like water balloons between my teeth.  We’ve enjoyed and learned many things from the Sem Garden, and so as a farewell to that marvelous place, over the next several days I’ll be sharing some of the memories and lessons we’ve enjoyed.  I’ll be back soon…

Happy 4th!

4 Jul

Happy fourth of July!

Sophia needed to point and wave at EVERYTHING during the parade

Jared and my dad had to help push a fancy car down part of the street because it stopped running

All lined up and ready for some candy

Aleah had four “copples” today.  According to her, “Four copples is great ,but five would be way too many.

After the parade and naps we went down to the lake.

Sophi’s favorite thing to do is throw random things into the lake, there goes the sunscreen.

High five!

Love them

Jared teaching Sophia to throw the rocks and not eat them

catching crayfish

Side note:  For the next two weeks we will be staying with my parents in northern Wisconsin until we officially start the job.  All of our personal belongings are already up in northern Minnesota storage and we will have to move in when we get there.

We are so ready to have this time to relax, take a breath, savor what we have just gone through and look ahead to our future.

Two weeks of no homework, no jobs and lots of help with the kids from grandmas, grandpas and various aunts, uncles and friends who will be passing through.

Another side note:  I sewed for the first time in a month!  It was so wonderful to get back at it.  I made Aleah two simple dresses since she is sort of running out of clothes- Sorry babe.  I have missed it so very much.  I was nervous I wouldn’t remember but I guess it is just like riding a bike.  The basics won’t leave you.

I PROMISE that sewing and gardening posts are just around the corner =)