Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My brother would have been 34 years old today.

My brother left this earth June 6th, eight years ago, two months before his 26th birthday.  It is hard to believe, my youngest son wasn't even two years old yet.

The last time I saw my brother he was on the ground playing Rescue Hero action figures with Hayden and Reece;  I was leaving town and he had agreed to watch the boys until my husband got home from work.

My boys loved their Uncle Ben.  I remember once when Hayden and I were at Trader Joe's, Hayden insisted I call Uncle Ben right then and invite him to dinner and a movie.  I called him right there in the store, and he accepted the invitation.   Hayden picked the dinner and if I remember correctly we had frozen chicken burritos, à la Trader Joe's.  I love telling my sons that story.
This must have been Thanksgiving, 1997

By the time I had returned from my weekend away he had left with a friend to climb Mt. Rainier.  It was a couple of days later that my mother received the call that shattered our world.

You know, growing up we weren't close, my brother and I.  There was a seven year age difference and I remember my brother was always getting into my things, always hanging around when my friends were over, and just generally cramping my style.  I let him know how I felt and now, after laying in bed many nights, full of regrets, I try to teach my sons that they need to be kind to each other... that it's the just the two of them, together, that's it.  I don't want that relationship to be damaged when they are older.

It wasn't until he was 18 years old that Ben and I started to become friends.  We went camping that year, together with my husband, backpacking in the Jefferson Wilderness and then to the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowa Mountains.  Later, he and I even did a trip just the two of us, I was pregnant at the time and wouldn't even remember it except I have the photos... that seems so strange to me.
Ben, myself, Bob and Shasta in the Jefferson Wilderness Area, 1995(?)

Actually, I really don't have many memories of us growing up together.  I was away at college and then out of the house for most of his youth.  Then he was at Boston College and off to France for two years.  Bob and I were unemployed with a new baby when he graduated from college, but we threw caution to the wind and sold some Starbucks stock that I had gotten through their employee program so that we could be there.
Ben and our parents at his graduation from Boston College, 1998

After, when he was living in Paris, Bob, Hayden and I  made a trip over there to visit.  He was planning to come home that year and we figured it was now or never.  While we were there he made a video at Mont Saint Michel... I am so happy to have his voice on camera.
Bob and Ben tasting Calvados in Honfleur, 2000

I could go on and on, but I didn't intend for this to be so lengthy.  I just pray that I am able to love the people around me... really love them~ it's a verb you know, and that I'm kind... and, especially, that I teach my children to love each other.

Thank you for reading...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Everyday Graces is in a Treasury!

I just received an email that my French Country Christmas Stocking is being featured in an Etsy Treasury!  
~click the photo if you'd like to visit to my shop~

This is exciting news indeed:)  I started My Everyday Graces on Etsy in January and wrote about it in my post titled, An Honest Undertaking.

  Thank you Alora's Adorables, for including me in your lovely collection of stockings.

To see the treasury click here.  

Alora's Adorables is a shop featuring vintage chenille... tons of it!  Just click on her name if you'd like to see more.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Finders Keepers~ does motivation count? And where did all the Lovelies go?

I spent a very busy day being motivated after posting the monkeys on my back yesterday.  I was sidetracked when I went out to greet the 10 older lovelies and found... NO lovlies!  It seems that the one night I did not go out to check on them (it figures) the door to their hen house was open... all night!

"Chickens, chick, chick, chickens," I called.  Then I said a few other words that I won't repeat here.  Then I heard a peep coming from the corn, alas it was only one.  My youngest found another on the side of the shop and then Gary and three others came running and jumping through the garden fence.  Another was napping under the apple tree and two more in the garden... but where, oh where, was the last Barred Rock?
~come to mama~

We looked and looked.  I figured if she had been gotten I would surely see a feathery mess somewhere around the area.  Nope, no feathery mess to be found.  That had to be a good sign, right?

After searching more, to no avail, I decided the to-do list must go on... especially after I had bared my motivationless soul to you all.

I managed to edge the lawn, trim 56 lavender plants, plant lettuce seeds, pick cucumbers and, upon Happier than a Pig in Mud's blessing, have happy hour with my friend and neighbor Petie, over at Inspired Nesting.

Today I am off to prepare our little cabin in the woods for some guests that are arriving tonight.  We donated a summer weekend stay at our school auction last year.
~winter photo of cabin... summer photo of Mt. Hood~

Thanks for sticking with me and for the encouragement.  It really did help!  Sometimes I just don't have it going on and don't you think it is such a blessing to have this group of women cheerleading and supporting each other in their endeavors?

What job are you dreading?  Go ahead, dive in... and if you need a little push feel free to ask:)

Oh, and before I forget... sweet Tilly managed to flush out the last chicken.  Thankfully my son and his friend were out there because I don't think Tilly intended to stop at the flushing... if you know what I mean.    All is well once again in the land of the lovelies!
~good girl, Tilly~

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My to-do list and a problem with motivation...

I seem to have lost something very important.... 
my motivation  
And I am depending on you all to help me find it.  

I began to wonder last night if it might help keep me accountable if I posted about it here.  "Perhaps", I thought to myself, "if I expose my to-do list to the world (or at the very least my little corner of it), I would actually jump up from the computer and get busy."  You see, the embarrassment of logging on tomorrow and not having anything to show for myself would just be too much! 

So I have decided to share, in words and pictures, some of what I aim to get done today...

The edger has been out and waiting patiently for over a week... I am going to edge around the bocce area.

Right next to the edger has been the trimmer... it keeps calling me, taunting me... no more I say!  It is time to trim the lavender.

And then this little guy popped up a couple of days ago... the battle begins today! (insert diabolical laugh here:)

In the midst of everything I lost track of my coffee... after looking around the house forever 10 minutes, I found it here;  can you believe this wasn't the first place I checked? 
I should add wash my Swagon to the list, but not today.

Last, but not least, I need to plant lettuce seeds, pick and pickle cucumbers, and finish putting the garlic away.

Can I do it?  I can tell you one thing... I already feel more motivated just by writing this than I have all week.  It is already working!

I pledge to not return to the computer until I have accomplished something... so, until next week next time... thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sweet Shot~ Sweet Chick

I apologize... I have chickens on the brain right now.  I am hoping that things will calm down and I will be able to focus on other things soon.  They have certainly kept me occupied and worried during their first week.

I still have 23, but it hasn't been easy!  I had to give round the clock care to my little Constance... named after her two day bout with constipation;  she is the only one I have named.  I think we have conquered her troubles, thankfully!

I had the lovelies outside today for the first time, briefly.
this one is so curious... she always has her head tilted and watching

Thanks for stopping by.  See more Sweet Shots by clicking the button~
Sweet Shot Day

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hovering Mama Hen, that's me~ slightly paranoid

Just a quick note to say raising 26 23 baby chicks is a full time job!  I have lost three of the little chicks since I received them:(  I am now paranoid and checking them around the clock, hence my midnight posting.

If one of them looks even remotely sick/lethargic they are quickly sent to my make-shift Chicken ICU (a separate box to keep the others from stepping on and pecking it).  I have had several patients today and am relieved to say they are all still with me... Although I still have one currently quarantined... poor little thing.

And then there is the cleaning of the bums so they don't get "pasty butt"... who knew??  That is when their vent gets dried you know what on it and they can't potty... a quick little wipe with a warm cloth fixes them right up.

I will get photos up soon (not of the "pasty butt", don't worry:).

Thanks for checking in:)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Crazy? We're all stocked up here!

Let me say that when the phone rang at 7:00AM I was less than thrilled.  "Who could be calling me at this hour?", I thought.  

My mood changed quickly when I picked up the phone and could hear peeping in the background as a woman told me my new babies were at the post office and ready for pick up.

"Yipee!"  I threw on whatever happened to be crumpled next to the bed, and away I went... I knew the babies wouldn't judge me; they're cool like that.
I kept thinking of the Secret Policemen's Third Ball CD when Erasure opens their song by saying,
"Hello my babies..."
Did anyone else listen to that CD over and over?

Anyhow, they are here...and I couldn't be happier:)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Views from the garden

first green beans of the season


spicy pickled beans

what's this? 
a puppy in the garden?  no, no silly tilly!

keeping cool under the corn

gazing west from the garden

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sweet Shot~ Mr. Personality

aka Gary... 
who keeps all the ladies in line, including the ones twice his size.  He's the first one to run toward me when I call, "Here chickens."  He knows I usually bring a tasty treat... you know, a slug or something:)

check here for more sweet shots...
Sweet Shot Day

Make ahead~ Gigandes/Gigantes Plaki Recipe

The other day I made Baked Giant Beans (how can such a delicious dish have such a boring name?) for a winery event and talked briefly about it here.  However, although the beans went to the winery, I went to the beach... where I proceeded to dream of the beans until I decided I must make some to eat myself!

With a barbeque planned for Wednesday night I set out to satisfy my craving!
I made these beans on Tuesday for the Wednesday party because the flavors develop so well after a day or so, and I wanted to be out of the kitchen when our guests were here.

We just finished the leftovers Saturday night (cold, right out of the fridge), and they were still fabulous!

Gigandes Plaki (much more gourmet sounding than Baked Giant Beans, right?) is a Mediterranean dish associated with Greece... sometimes spelled Gigantes Plaki.  My recipe is inspired by Vefa's Kitchen Cookbook and my dear Greek friend, Tasoula.
Gigandes Plaki Recipe

1 lb 2 oz dried large lima (butter) beans
2/3 cup olive oil (the best you have:)
1 cup chopped onion (I used walla walla)
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 bay leaves
1 large can whole tomatoes with juice (you can use diced but really squish them by hand if you do)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
feta (optional)

  • Prepare lima beans according to package... I tend to do the quick soak because I like instant gratification.
  • After the soaking stage, simmer the beans until just tender (no mushy beans), about 1 hour... but sometimes less with the quick soak method.  Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.  Place beans in a large casserole dish.  I do not skin the beans.
  • In a large bowl crush tomatoes by hand.
  • Heat half of the olive oil in a pan over low heat, add onion, bay leaves and garlic, cooking until the onions and garlic are soft and translucent... about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add to tomatoes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and most of the parsley.  Mix thoroughly with spoon or hands and then pour over the beans; do not stir.  
  • Drizzle the rest of the olive oil over the top and then sprinkle the rest of the parsley around, and add some crumbled feta too, if you'd like.
  • Bake at 350F for about one hour, until the beans are tender and the sauce has reduced.  If necessary add some of the bean liquid while cooking... (I have never had to add the liquid).
  • This dish can be served warm or room temperature... or right out of the fridge as far as I'm concerned!  I sprinkle feta right before serving as well.

Try it in lieu of barbequed baked beans!  If you try it I'd love to hear...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lunch and my brother-in-law, the artist...

Bob donned his Carharts and suspenders and went to work for me today taking down weeds with the scythe, so I thought I would treat him to a farmer’s lunch.  He seemed to enjoy it!

My brother-in-law, Jim Vogel, painted the original artwork that you see on Bob’s shirt.  He is wonderfully talented, and you can see more of his work at or click the shirt.  My sister in law, Christen, makes amazing frames from salvaged objects that perfectly compliment Jim’s paintings.  

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Must have herbs for the garden? Do tell!

I love having fresh herbs at my disposal all summer long... and I love having two boys who eagerly go out and retrieve said herbs (occasionally several times a day).

Here are some of my favorites:
Basil, Tarragon, Oregano

Bay Leaf, Rosemary, Thyme, Mint

Dill, Flat Leaf Parsley

Which herbs do you use a lot of?  
Do you grow your own?