Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Funny

This one made me laugh out loud...

As far as I can tell, it was originally published here.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not One, but THREE Sneak Peeks

I figured it was high time I posted something cross-stitchy here, to make sure you keep coming back. So, I have decided to reveal a tiny little peek of my works in progress.

Being ahead of schedule, I will be releasing the final two in my birth sampler series at the same time, early in May, perhaps even by the 7th. They are both completely stitched, I just have to press them, insert photos of my sweet ancestors, and get them into their lovely antique frames.

Here is Dagmar, my Danish Great Grandma...

and here is Ida, my Illinois-born Great Grandma...

and to round out the post, here is a glimpse of June's release (stock up on GAST Uniform Blue!)...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


A few days ago, I tried a new Banana Bread recipe that was low in oil and sugar, and surprisingly very yummy. My sous chefs heartily agree, and even the Daddy of the family gave his stamp of approval.

Here we are, the three of us, getting ready to mix it up (I have a confession for you- I photographed this moment, because, contrary to what you might believe about me, I don't generally let the kids in the kitchen while I am cooking. This is something that I am trying to change, because I want them to have lovely memories of spending time with me in a warm kitchen full of yummy scents, but they are still SO young, and I like to bake with speed and efficiency, and young children do not know the meaning of either of those words, which usually makes me want to pull my nose off and stamp it into the dust before thinking of sharing my sacred ground with them. There. Now you know the truth, that I am a Selfish Kitchen Hog):

The aprons were all hand-made (and not by me!) gifts... Katie's super adorable vintage inspired concoction with its perfect little tulip-shaped pockets was made by my friend Denise, who I really think should start making them to sell on etsy, don't you all agree? Jack and I received our aprons for Christmas from my sister Kim, but I'll have to show them to you later, because by now I'm sure you are wondering if I am EVER going to get around to giving you the recipe already. Well, here it is:

Surprisingly Yummy Health-Nut Banana Bread
(sorry, no photos- it disappeared way too fast)

5 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup honey
1/4 cup oil
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup bran
3 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly rub two loaf pans with butter or oil.

Combine bananas, honey, oil, and vanilla.
In separate bowl, combine flour, bran, soda, and salt.
Gently add dry ingredients with wet, stirring until *just* combined.
Fold in the chocolate chips, again until *just* combined- the more you stir, the denser your loaf will become, and the goal is for a nice, tender crumb.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle pulls out clean (watch out for those chocolate chips!)

I will be throwing out every other banana bread recipe in my collection now that I have found this one (it is actually my adaptation of a recipe that I found online, but which is now eluding me, so I can't include a link, sorry).

If I win the drawing over on Paulette's blog, I will be getting myself a couple of these, so that my bread can be even yummier, for everything cooked in cast iron becomes immediately better than if cooked in other bakeware, don't you agree?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I recently saw this adorable doodle by the Resident Artist, which I immediately thought was his rendition of playing outside in the sunshine with his sister.

But when I asked him to tell me about his drawing, he revealed that it is a picture of Mr. and Mrs. Incredible...

being picked up by the giant robot (known as the Omnidroid in the film)...

Apparently, I don't think like a little boy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dryer Balls and Coal Hoppers

A few years ago I picked up some spiky plastic dryer balls because my slightly ageing dryer was taking longer to dry my clothes (winter in Oregon is usually very wet, making it impossible to line-dry clothing), and I had read that they would shorten the dry time while also reducing static. I used them until they broke apart, but never truly felt that they had helped in any way. At some point during that time, I began to see home-made dryer balls fashioned from wool yarn or felted wool on etsy and other places around the www.

Being the DIY girl that I am, I added wool dryer balls to my list of things to make. But it seemed that they were always made with wool yarn, of which I had none on hand, and I certainly didn't want to drive all the way to the city and spend lots of money on wool yarn just to throw it in the dryer. I really wanted an alternative way that would allow me to use materials on hand. Enter the Resweater blog and method of making dryer balls from old felted wool sweaters. The perfect solution for using up the stack of moth-eaten wool sweaters that I just couldn't bear to part with because I knew they would be good for SOMETHING! I had already made a pair of mittens, a winter hat for Little Miss, and a pair of slippers from them, but still had more wooly goodness leftover.

So, on Saturday, I set to work and used up most of three pre-felted wool sweaters to make these:

They turned out really, really big, but the kids loved playing with them for the brief time before this mean Mama made them throw them in the dryer, but I think they will work really well because of their larger size. I'll let you know... today is laundry day!

In the meantime, Father and Son had disappeared out to the shop. It was a rainy Saturday morning, perfect for doing little indoor projects. About the time I put my finishing stitches in dryer ball number 3, they came to the house with this:

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you will know that my Boy, now 4 years old, has been Thomas obsessed since he was 18 months old. That very first set that I bought for him was with much hesitation on my part, not sure that the money investment for a bit of plastic was worth it, but that set might as well have been gold, for he has been playing with it almost non-stop ever since. And of course, his set has continued to grow with each passing Birthday and Christmas celebration. And our wonderfully consumer-driven society continues to produce and market more, more, more. Check out the pages of Take Along Thomas items available on amazon. This Coal Loader Playset has been the most recent object of desire and the inspiration for his new home-made version.

If you do it just right, you can drop a barrel down through the funnel and...

it lands right in the coal car!

Something tells me he likes the made-with-love-by-Daddy-with-my-help-from-scrap-wood version better than if we had just paid money for colorful plastic.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Green Growing Things

Just a little peek at our up and coming Summer pantry... I can hardly wait!




Asparagus, Borage, Pumpkins, Tomatoes, and a few others:

Pansies (they are edible, although I'll probably just eat them with my eyes):

Dandelions (yes... dandelions... stay tuned for the results of my experiment):

Pears (this is the first year with so many blooms- celebrate with me!):


We are more than ever determined to learn how to become self-sustaining with most, if not all of our foodstuffs. I'm not crazy about the idea of milking my own cow or goat and making cheese, and we will never be able to grow our own wheat here, but as far as veggies and fruit, and even meat go, I'm ready!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Free Chart for Earth Day

I have never considered myself to be an environmentalist, mentally reserving that term for those passionate activists who chain themselves to logging equipment and live for years at a time in old growth trees.

But, I have always carried a deep and abiding respect for this amazing planet that God created for us to inhabit. We were given a task in the very beginning of creation, to be caretakers of the Land and the Creatures that live in in. And we, along with those that represent us, have been failing miserably the last few generations.

I have steered clear of anything other than lighthearted inspirational posts on this blog, but find myself convicted to instead share more of the deeper issues that I am pondering on and trying to live out. Don't worry... this blog will still remain mostly unchanged, but will begin to dig deeper here and there, as I am convicted in my own heart.

My first assignment to myself is to get you, my blog readers to think about the way that you live and impact the world around you. And since I know that most of you are fellow stitchers, what better way than a free sampler chart? Or in this case, TWO free sampler charts?! The first, inspired by my love for my children, and strong desire for them to live healthy and long lives:

How I see it in color:

The second, inspired by my love for the great outdoors...

Seen in color:

Left click on the charts for an enlarged version, then right click and save to your computer.

As always, feel free to use whatever colors you desire, and use them in whatever way you wish... and I would be very grateful if you gave credit to me if you post photos or links anywhere online, or offer your finished goods up for sale. And I would really, really like to see photos of your finished work as well.

"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and that as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no "brief candle" to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."

-George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


with all of the joy in your heart...

and by all means, don't forget to wear your favorite fashion combo!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

When a Poor Girl is Under Seige

by forces of nature... the predictable monthly sort, and the unpredictable viral sort... all at the same time... this is where she likes to retreat...

in the glass: iced grapefruit juice, unsweetened

on the linen: Great Grandma Ida's Birth Sampler, number 4 in the series

in the air: swallows singing, wind chime ringing, creek water flowing, breezes blowing, wild currant fragrance wafting, my kind of "silence"

in the player: Northanger Abbey book on CD (dare I confess that this is my first time "reading" Austen? and although I enjoy the movies greatly, dare I confess that I am not ready to embark on another of her books any time soon? I won't elaborate unless you ask, for I know that her works are dearly loved by you.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Message for Their Daddy

This is what greeted Matt on his Saturday morning computer desktop.

Can anyone decipher the message?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fresh Paint

Several years ago, when we first put color on the mud room walls, I, not realizing the error of my ways, chose paint with a matte finish. I loved the idea of having a flat color on the walls, but didn't realize that it would pick up every single fingerprint and speck of dirt in the air, and that washing it with a damp, lint-free towel would do nothing to improve its appearance, but rather, would make it look infinitely worse.

So it is with great happiness that I show you this:

Thanks to my dear friend Connie, who gifted me with her time and talents last week, covering that horrible matte with a new coating of satin. Same color (Roasted Pepper by Miller), but amazingly better and fresher look.

I am so happy!

That door you see leads to the laundry room, hence the pile of baskets, since I am in the midst of washing clothes today.

The #12 Red Wing crock on the floor is the home to every miscellaneous scarf, hat, or glove that the family keeps in circulation. The #2 belonged to my Great-Grandparents (see preceding 2 posts), and the #3 was purchased to keep it company.

The oh-so-primitive cupboard was bought for a song at a local antique show (gotta love the smeared finger stains on the front!), and houses most of our shoes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Pattern Release... Great Grandma Johanne's Birth Sampler

This sampler is the second in a series of four, which have been designed to honor my Great-Grandmothers. To read more about the life of Johanne, scroll down and read yesterday's post.

In the photograph, I included the silver fork and spoon engraved with the date of Johanne and Olaus' wedding, which is also my wedding anniversary (something that I didn't know until my wedding day had nearly arrived). The crock was also owned by them, and most likely was purchased when Olaus first immigrated to the US, for his very first place of residence here was Red Wing, Minnesota. The wool coverlet was woven by a family member as a gift, and was possibly patched by Johanne.

Included with the pattern is a complete upper and lower case alphabet and number set so that you can customize this sampler to honor the life or death of someone you love. ***ADDED: I FORGOT TO MENTION THAT AN AMERICAN FLAG CHART IS ALSO INCLUDED, SINCE MOST OF YOU WON'T WANT A NORWEGIAN FLAG ON YOUR SAMPLER! I ALSO WILL OFFER TO ANYONE WHO PURCHASES DIRECTLY FROM ME OR THROUGH MY ETSY SHOP AN ADDED CHART OF THE COUNTRY FLAG OF THEIR CHOICE BY REQUEST***

There is also an instruction sheet telling you my method of inserting a photograph into the finished sampler.

Stitch Count: 230 x 150

Model stitched on Zweigart 40ct. New Castle Cream linen
which was then stained upon completion.

Using DMC flosses:
221, 676, 680, 840, 926, 928, 3011, 3013, 3859, ecru

The lovely frame is an antique.

You may purchase the pattern through my etsy shop, but if you aren't an etsy user, you can contact me directly via email:

You can also wait and buy from your local needlework shop. My distributors will receive their shipment early next week. If your LNS doesn't carry my designs, ask! I am still so new to the market that there are many out there who don't know about my work, and I am counting on you to help spread the word.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Great Grandma Johanne

As I have grown older, the stories of my ancestors have grown increasingly of interest to me. And most especially of the women that have gone before me, living their lives, caring for their children, making their piece of the world softer and more beautiful in small or large ways.

I am blessed to have people on both sides of my family tree that have compiled many countless hours worth of information from which I can glimpse traces of who they were, these people from whom I am made. I hope to continue their work, carrying the torch forward so that generations that follow me can also know a little about the people from which they are made.

Therefore, I have endeavored to create a series of birth samplers honoring my Great-Grandmothers. The birth samplers will be released one at a time over a four month period of time, the first having been released last month, the second will be released tomorrow. But before the unveiling of the next sampler design, I wanted to share a little with you about the woman for whom I have made it.

Johanne Marie Haugen was born in 1881 in Norway, the second of 12 children. After finishing the required 7 years of school at the age of 14, she was sent to Bergen as a house maid in the home of her great uncle. She received little more than room and board, and was expected to send any extra home to her family.

During the 20 years that she lived in Bergen, she worked as a nurse maid and cook in homes of business people. She had many friends and was active in support of missionary ministries and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

In 1915, at the age of 34, she met Olaus Kjosnes at the home of her cousin. He was on a 4 month visit from America, where he had immigrated in 1898. By the end of his visit, they were married, and 4 days later boarded a ship to America.

That first winter in her new home, there was snow 9 feet deep, more than she had ever seen in all her years in Norway.

In the Summer of 1916, the first of two sons was born, followed a few years later by a fall while hanging laundry, which resulted in the miscarriage of a daughter.

Johanne always planted a large garden, and canned fruit, vegetables and preserves for Winter use.

According to my Grandpa’s memoir (that is his handsome self in the photo above), she often worked late into the evening sewing, patching, or ironing clothes, and sang a lot as she worked around the house. She was a good communicator and central figure in family discussions. She had a lot of compassion and always put her family ahead of her own needs. She was a good story teller who never lost her love for her home country, keeping a subscription to 2 Norwegian newspapers and faithfully corresponding with friends and relatives.

She happily welcomed visits from grandchildren (that is my Mama and Uncle Don in the above photo), and often had a lump of sugar dunked in coffee to share with them (the origin of my coffee gene, I’m certain).

She died in 1968 at 88 years of age.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Leafing Out

We have these massive Cottonwood trees growing up, up, up, out of our canyon. Their roots are way down in the creek bottom, and they come soaring up, reaching well above the Alder, and even most of the evergreens.

They are perhaps one of my single most favorite trees. Not for their beauty, as they are quite common in appearance, and certainly not for their usefulness, since they have short lives in comparison to other tree varieties, and their wood is way too ashy to create a good house-warming fire in the woodstove.

And yet, I love them.

I watch them all year long from my kitchen window, frosted with snow or ice in the Winter, standing stark and tall, shivering and quaking in the Summer, as their silvery leaves catch the motion of the air, and swaying to and fro, branches and leaves streaming in the wind when the Autumn storms come.

It may be their massive size, or it may be the memories I have collected through my life of climbing on, daydreaming under, and watching their rhythm in the wind. All I know is that I am happy to see them right now, baby leaves in brilliant chartreuse green stand out against the pink of the Alder and deep green of the evergreens...

their growth cycle is starting once again.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls are Evil

Don't you agree?

I used a recipe identical to this one, but used some leftover buttercream frosting instead of the called for cream cheese. Just as delightful, and maybe a *pinch* less fattening?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Our Beach Trip

I'm about ready to bore you with some photos of our weekend trip to the beach...

It was C-C-C-C-Cold, really windy, and WET... this is the one single time we braved the weather, and it only lasted about 3 minutes...

But we made up for the lack of sand and surf time by eating at Camp 18...

Relaxing at the beach house (thank you, Kathi!)...

Visiting the Tillamook Cheese Factory...

and Eating Ice Cream...

Yes, I was there too, I really was (honest)! Know how I know? These are my shoes, my jeans, and my cold little feet next to Jack's...