Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Fave: The Garden is Done (well, for this year anyway)

I've enjoyed posting and writing about the progress (or, at times, regress) of our garden. I started in April and this month, September, will be the last garden post until Spring.

Here were the state of affairs a little over a week ago:
Yup, pretty much everything is gone or dead. We were able to protect some plants through the earlier, lighter frosts, but when the thermometer read 22 degrees one morning, we knew we were done. (Since this picture was taken, all the tomatoes were torn out and the carrots dug up. I think there are only a few beets left and they're hard and tough, but quite enjoyed by growing cattle.)

It's hard to believe our vegetable garden was a plethora a green and life only a few short weeks ago:
I really can't complain. The frost held off a week or so later than last year, and we definitely were able to harvest more pound of vegetables than any other year.

The onions and garlic were once again fabulous.
And we got such a great crop of beans and tomatoes (mostly green) that I was able to can salsa and beans. We also have a pantry full of potatoes.

It was great while it lasted, but now the party is over. Time to clean up the mess.
(We'll, I just popped out to snap a few pictures. Dan is actually the one who had to clean up the mess.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Fave: I CAN do it!

For several years I'd wanted to learn the food preservation technique of canning, and this year I finally did. Although I was excited to learn, I was also pretty nervous. I thought it was going to be difficult, complex and time consuming, and that I would fail miserably and possibly poison those I love.

Well, it was time consuming, but it wasn't terribly complex or all that difficult and I have yet to make anyone ill. Yay!

Earlier in the summer I preserved cherries that my parents acquired, and recently I made pickles and relish with cucumbers grown by a neighbor, but all the rest I canned using veggies we grew in our own garden. (Oh, and my new best friend is Mrs. Wages. Her salsa seasoning and recipe (found in Wal-Mart and ACE) is amazing and so easy. Thank you to my sister Jen for introducing us. And thank you also for my large water bath canner. Happy birthday to me!)
Pictured here are jars of cherry jam and pie filling, regular salsa, salsa verde, spicy dilly beans, pickle relish, and a bit of prep action. Oh, and of course, Lana loved to "help." (Here she is counting out tomatoes before they became salsa. In her Mickey Mouse jammies. Because that's how we roll.)

In total, I canned about 70 jars of various sizes. To those who regularly can and put up their family's produce, 70 jars is probably laughable. But for me, well, it was a lot.

How 'bout you? How do you preserve your garden's bounty?

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

10 Questions: Runner's Edition

One of my favorite stops on the web is the Another Mother Runner site. The two gals who run the AMR empire recently wrote 10 answers to 10 running questions and challenged their readers to do the same. Here are my responses:

 1. Best run ever: Hmmmmm. I'm not sure if it's the best ever, but I just finished the Palouse Days 10K (my first EVER 10K). The course was tough, hot, and hilly, but beautiful and peaceful. I didn't have a stellar time, but I was proud that I challenged myself to do something I had never done before.

Toward the end of the race, I was thoroughly exhausted and ready to be done. I hadn't seen another runner for quite some time and was feeling a bit alone on the course. When the finish line came into sight, a woman I had never met ran up to me, smiling and offering encouragement. She ran the last 100 yards or so with me, and not in an I-have-pity-on-you-and-your-slowness kind of way, but more of a you-are-awesome-and-make-me-want-to-run-with-you kind of way.
(Finishing the 10K with my new Best Running Friend. (uh, I think her name is Darcy???) The Good Husband snapped this shot. Rather patriotic, don't you think?)

2. Three words that describe my running: Work. Important. Plodding.

3. My go-to running outfit is: My fear of jiggly legs keeps me away from shorts, so capris are a must for me. When it's cold I bundle up in warm-up pants (my daughter calls them swishy pants) or wear long running tights under my capris or yoga pants. Also, as I was flipping through photos to use in this post, I noticed I wear my purple dri-tech running top quite often. Here it is again from the Plaouse River Duathlon:
(Rockin' the purple top and capris - pretty much what I always run in.)

4. Quirky habit while running: I listen to a really odd mix on my iPod when I run. It's got music from Glee, Worship songs, country classics, modern pop, late '90s, and the occasional audiobook. I also am the most easily distracted runner I know. I'll try hard to focus on my third hill repeat, spot a squirrel crossing ahead of me and have a crazy stream of consciousnesses:
That squirrel sure has a big tail. Hey, I wonder, where do squirrels go in the winter? Trees? Underground? My garage? I hope they don't get in the garage. The garage really needs to be swept out and I need to tell Lana not to color with her chalk inside the garage because it doesn't wash away with the rain. Oh, I think my car is due for an oil change and when do we need to put the winter tires on? It's only September, I don't need winter tires until November. November Rain is a really great song. I need to download that when I get home and add it to my running playlist. Sweet, I'm at the top of the hill. I totally ran that one faster than the first two. Well, maybe, I'm not sure. Maybe I need to focus harder?

5. Morning, midday, evening: 1-2 days per week I get out during lunch time and run near my work. It's a very runner/pedestrian friendly campus and there are several great paths I can take depending on how much time I've got. My early morning Sunday runs are great. I try to get up before the rest of the family and spend a quiet morning on country roads. I've also recently started running on Wednesday evenings while my daughter is in a class. It's different, but I'm grateful for the time. If I had to choose a favorite, I'd pick morning.

6. I won’t run outside when it’s: Icy. I'm klutzy enough as it is, and adding ice will pretty much guarantee disaster. Hard rain and blinding snow are also great deterrents.

7. Worst injury—and how I got over it: It wasn't a true running injury, but last year when I went through bronchitis-bronchitis-pneumonia, my running came to a halt. It was a loooooong time before I could breathe pain-free and took weeks after I was healthy to build back my (already fairly lackluster) mileage. 

8. I felt most like a bad*** mother runner when: My daughter watches me run. Lana, my sweet little cheerleader, honestly believes I'm fast and that I win every race I run. She loves riding in the jogging stroller (she calls it the "fast stroller") and has certain points of a run where she'll ratchet up the encouragement. In her eyes I am strong and capable of greatness.
(This dear girl was a more welcome sight than a table of Gatorade at the end of the Palouse River Duathlon.)

9. Next race is: I haven't decided. Now that I've completed a 10K, I think I'd like to do another one before the snow flies.

10. Potential running goal for 2013: In May I'll do the Palouse River Duathlon again. I really like that race and family members compete in it too and it's awesome to have a ready-made support system already there. I'll check local race calendars for another 10K as well. If you've got a favorite local race, let me know and maybe I'll join you next year!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Okay, so maybe we're not ready to be a hiking family *quite* yet.

Not too long ago, I listened to this audiobook.

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, was pretty good. It's the story of Cheryl hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Basically, she hiked for 100 days and recorded her journey and what she learned. (Please note, this is not a family-friendly audiobook. Ms. Strayed talks about being unfaithful to her husband, describes dabbling in heroin use, and uses the F word fairly often. When you have your kids in the car, you'll have to switch from this back to RadioDisney.)

The book touches on a variety of themes ranging from grieving the loss of a loved one, to modern-day nature conservation. Many good conversations with friends could be had over this book, but the parts I was truly facinated with had to do with the actual hiking itself. The author essentially strapped her world on her back and walked through the woods for over three months. She didn't carry a phone or GPS and only enough cash to barely get by when she'd hike to a small town. She pitched her tent and unrolled her sleeping bag when she was tired, purified her own drinking water, and ate light-weight, foul-tasting dried foods.

I started thinking that doing something like that would be so cool. Not for me to do alone, oh no, I think it would be amazing to do as a family. Maybe when Lana's older, I thought. Maybe when she's six or seven we could do something like this. I wasn't thinking 100 days, but maybe two weeks. Short enough that we wouldn't lose our jobs, but long enough to really need to depend on each other and really grow closer as a family.

So, to see how ready we were to do this feat, two Saturdays ago the three of us hiked Kamiak Butte. We've done this hike numerous times, but I really felt Lana (at 3 years old) was old enough and strong enough to walk the 3-mile loop by herself and not need to be carried by either Mama or Daddy.

The parts she did hike, she really liked:

And of course, you can't beat the view.

Despite my thinking that Lana could do it herself, she probably spent 1/3 of the hike just like this:
(Two weeks later, Dan's neck and shoulders are still sore.)

I wish I could write that we all hiked Kamiak Butte effortlessly with abundant endurance and sure feet. Sorry, that wasn't us.  We were slow, Lana wasn't the only one who tripped on jagged rocks or exposed tree roots, and she sure wasn't the only one who was relieved to be done once we reached the car.

Yeah, we're not ready to be a hiking family quite yet. I don't know if we'll get there in three years or five years, or even ten years.
(Oh, and is evidenced by this picture, we're not a family who is ready to take a decent self-portrait either.)

Yup, we're definitely a work-in-progress!
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Fave: AWANA!

Our Wednesdays are a bit different now. Instead of heading home after picking up Lana, now the two of us head to a local park, play and eat a picnic dinner before she gets dropped off at Awana. Our church hosts this fabulous kids class during the school year and I was thrilled when I found out our girl was old enough to attend.
To say Lana loves it would be an understatement. Lana looks forward to Awana all week and often talks about her Cubby Bear class and her Cubbies teachers (the kids are divided into classes based on age and the littles are Cubbies). Lana reminds me on Wednesday mornings to grab her blue vest and workbook. (Both of those items had to be earned by scripture memorization.) She happily memorizes her weekly Bible verses and enjoys sitting with me and going over the activities in her Cubbies workbook. Best of all, she's not just beng entertained for two hours, she's really learning some important truths that are being ingrained into her being at three years old.
After her first class, she bounded out the door to meet me, and with joy in her voice exclaimed, "Mommy! God loves me really much!" Neither of us could have smiled wider had we tried.

Thanks Awana and volunteers! You are definitely a favorite to us!
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Fave: Daniel James Lenssen

In honor of Dan's 34th Birthday, I thought it was fitting to dedicate a post to him. So, in no particular order, I give you a smattering of Dan details:

-Dan is an excellent parker. Parallel, backing into a space, whatever it is, he can do it.

-As a father, he is quite willing to humble himself for his daughter. Here Dan is, happily crammed into a small carnival ride, eating his knees just to make Lana feel happy and safe:
-Dan hates bleu cheese dressing and much prefers thousand island or ranch.

-He's watching the American version of Top Gear right now and telling the guys where they messed up, giving them driving directions, and questioning their methods of cheating.

-Dan is an all-star pinata maker:

-Dan loves to eat meat. He loves meat so much he got bacon for his birthday.

-Dan looks fabulous in a classic black pinstriped suit.
Doesn't he?

-For dessert tonight, I made Dan my world-famous Poor Man's Tiramisu. He thought is was delicious, because well, it is delicious.

-Little known fact: Dan is a world-class tickler.

-He's also a really good gardener. Those are some big bulbs of garlic!

-When we go on a road trip, Dan drives and doesn't care that I nap. I think that's awesome.

-Dan has become an excellent fisherman, especially when there's snow on the ground. Here's the proof:

Happy Birthday Dan! 34 years ago the world became a better place because you arrived in it!
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