Monday, June 29, 2015

Aslan's Country

I read The Chronicles of Narnia my freshman year of college. Since I lived off campus, I camped out in the school library and read books between classes. I had my own special chair, and rarely saw anyone else in my secluded area. I promise, I made friends a few weeks into school. But before I did, I finished all seven novels.

My first trip to the Oregon Coast happened a short while after finishing these books. Jeff brought me there after we had been dating for a few months, and my breath was instantly taken away. "This is the gateway to Aslan's Country!" Jeff had no idea what I was talking about...

In the final pages of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Reepicheep crossed the waves into Aslan's Country, which is a metaphor for heaven. It might sound crazy and suicidal, but sometimes I feel it is possible to walk straight into the ocean and land in paradise.

Except one time I wandered too far into the water, was immediately consumed by terror (and the knowledge that I was going to die), so started screaming and swam back to shore. Yeah, it turns out the ocean is terrifying - not to mention frigid.

Despite the fact that it almost killed me that one time, I still LOVE the Oregon Coast.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Mr. Sandman

This summer has started out great. We just finished our first week of tadpole swim lessons, my veggie garden is doing better than I expected, gay marriage was legalized, and we even squeezed in a trip to the Oregon Coast.

Everett does not care much for politics at this juncture in life, but I can tell you he is a huge fan of water activities. Therefore, it was no surprise to me that he loved visiting the beach as much as he did. The weekend we were in Cannon Beach was the same weekend as the annual sandcastle contest. This event, combined with perfect weather, meant the town was the busiest I have ever seen. There were more people on the sidewalks than there were at last year's Forth of July parade. However, we stay at a house pretty far out of town, which means the beaches are always more secluded, and my crowd anxiety was not triggered by the masses.

At one point we attempted to visit some shops downtown. We looked for parking for 40 minutes before giving up and returning to the house. But not before I made Jeff park illegally so I could grab us all ice cream.

For the most part, we simply savored our time away from everything. I took a 4 hour Benadryl-induced nap, absorbed some vitamin D, Everett learned how to climb out of the pack n play, Jeff got a new kite (someone took our old one from the beach house a few years ago), and we just had an all around glorious time. We did not want to leave!

I love how Willow is always following him around to make sure he is safe.

She really is super  protective of him. One time she started barking like crazy when I kid got rambunctious near him at a splash pad. I've never heard such a vicious sound come out of her. I am glad we had her on a leash.

Low tide at Haystack Rock!

He pointed out the starfish to everyone he saw.

Beach fires are one of my favorite things.

This is me trying to explain: Why we can't put a metal object in the fire, then wave it around in the air. Hooray for life lessons!

Feeling a little better about it, but still tired from a long day of playing/splashing/running around. He did get to try his first s'more though, which he LOVED.

Summer Solstice Sunset.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

2 1/2 Years

Hello, Tuesday. This past week has been crazy, and is sort of flying by when I consider all the things that need to be done.

We finally had our garage sale this weekend, and I am so relieved it is over. This has been months in the making, as the people we hired to help finish the basement were not true to their quoted 2+ months, and at that point it was too cold for a sale. Now that all our stuff is gone...

...we finally have room to breathe - and walk. And making money off things we no longer want is not the worst option. At the end of the day, I finally feel like we can get our lives put together and organized to my standards.

I spent Sunday afternoon pulling out all Everett's baby clothes and arranging them for storage. It is surreal seeing all these tiny things again. We have so many wonderful memories from when he was a baby, and it makes me sad those days are now over.

Here comes the cliche statement every parent makes...I am absolutely baffled by the fact that Everett is 2 - 1/2 years old. I watch him run around the house, clumsily put on his shoes, creatively play with his toys, flip the vinyl records and turn on the turntable, and cue up Thomas all by himself, then I wonder where the time has gone. My baby is getting HUGE!

This phase of life is in many ways more stable than babyhood. He can somewhat communicate his needs, we have a solid routine, and it seems his stint of toddler anorexia has passed (we discovered the nanny was giving him way too much milk during the day). I have reasonable expectations for how my day will look, and I know my limits as a mother. For example, I still cannot talk on the phone in front of him. He whines until I let him talk, rips the phone out of my hands, hangs up on whoever I am talking to after staring at the phone in silence for 10+ seconds, then opens the Game Center App to send out friend requests to strangers.

Because of his independent nature and growing physical skills, he also knows how to push the limits, to the point that my head starts spinning. Sometimes I am terrified to pick him up from the sitter's house. I drive like a mom and take my time getting there, anxiously wondering what the ride home will look like. This is because I know that 25% of the time there will be a battle to get him in the car. Oftentimes, I am at the sitter's house for an hour trying to get him to the car, or I am only able to get him in the car if the sitter herself straps him in. This is because kids (...and adults when you think about it...) will be perfect angels to anyone but their parents, and this is a maddening fact of life. And when toddlers are sick, they are 10x more challenging than normal, and unfortunately they are sick frequently.

Despite all this, I find that taking time out of my day to channel patience has helped immensely. It also helps for me to remember what it was like being a kid. I have to calmly give him options when he is testing his limits, then let him decide which option he would rather choose, "Everett, we will either read this book in your bed, or we will have to go to bed without a book. You have 3 seconds to decide what you want to do..." (He likes reading books, prefers this activity on the couch, and especially loves putting off bedtime.)

We are also getting to the point where it is no longer appropriate for him to be in a crib. However, the kid is so active that it is nice to have a place where he can be contained. I am not looking forward to the transition, but I know it must be done soon. My baby is growing up too quick!


However, we are continuing to make memories, and we are currently getting ready for a much-needed family getaway. In addition, we have an exciting new piece of furniture in our house, which I stayed up late last night preparing us for today's delivery. I literally have no Before photos of what this space used to look like, but here it is: ready for our new prized possession (Honest Floor Cleaner and all)...

Here are a few more pictures from our coloring photo shoot. He makes this face when he is concentrating, and it makes me smile.

And one in color, so you can see that his colors of choice are Seahawks themed. :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Weekenders {Farm Chicks}

This weekend I got to do one of my favorite activities: Farm Chicks! This event only happens once a year and is a pretty big deal in Spokane. It is a weekend where makers and collectors get together in bizarre-like fashion to sell their wares to the masses.

The event starts Saturday morning at 9am, and we were there to bang down the doors. It was stressful. There were people everywhere, and I had to skip over most of the booths simply because it was not physically possible to get into them. However, I still managed to score some hella cute yard art from BU2ful Farmhouse Charm. My mom also found a vintage bee smoker, and she has already upcycled it, turning it into a flower pot. So cute!

We had Everett with us in an umbrella stroller, so that went as well as you can expect, considering the crowds. I actually do not know if he was complaining or crying, because I likely would not have been able to hear him over the noise. We took off after a couple hours and rewarded his extremely good, patient behavior with some Starbucks hot chocolate.

It was a good thing I had him with me because it kept me from buying too much. However, after church the next day, my mom and I decided to go back. The crowds were thinner and we did not have a child with us, so I ended up spending way more money than I had the previous day. Although the crowds were much less anxiety-producing on Sunday, some of the booths were pretty picked over by then. For example, I was going to get more yard art from BU2ful, but she was sold out of what I was eying the previous day. Despite this, I still managed to score 2 vintage Disney records for Everett, a headband from Sweet Ties Hair Ties, an awesome night light I cannot even begin to describe (it would take a whole blog post) from JunkGirls, and a poster print from Wood and Wool Home Goods (my favorite shop!).

My favorite part was getting to talk to the makers directly. They were all so cool, and so excited to talk about their goods. On Saturday they were all a little overwhelmed, but on Sunday I had really great conversations with people. Next year when I ask Everett if he wants to go to Farm Chicks, I am pretty sure he will say NO. However, I cannot wait to visit again, as each year is completely different from the year before.

The most unique thing I saw? An old nuclear test missile had been "upcycled" and made into a light fixture. What would the world do without creative people?

In the end, this weekend was insanely epic. I saw Neutral Milk Hotel live on Friday night, visited Farm Chicks twice, did some large-scale family shopping at Old Navy, the weather was sizzling hot, and Jeff got chased by an angry, half naked man in an empty parking garage. It doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Becoming a Carnivore

I have been a relatively strict vegetarian for the last 10 years. I say "relatively," because I know there have likely been times I have consumed things made with chicken stock, or devoured eggs that grazed a piece of bacon on the brunch platter. I have never been that vegetarian who demands her food be cooked in a separate pan which has never touched an ounce of meat. I have never chosen an inferior Mexican restaurant simply because it is the only one in a 50 mile radius serving vegetarian refried beans. And I have certainly never been the vegetarian who refuses a home cooked meal from someone who has no clue I am a vegetarian, and who places a meat dish in front of me after slaving in the kitchen all day. On occasion, I am a vegetarian who eats meat.

Growing up, I was never too interested in the meat dishes served by my parents. Like all kids, I loved bacon and sausage for breakfast, and pepperoni pizza with pineapple was my meal of choice in high school. However, if mom put a chicken leg in front of me for dinner, I would lick off the barbeque sauce, then pick at the meat in disgust. After reading The Omnivore's Dilemma in college, I was pretty convinced that I needed to cut meat from my diet completely.

For a majority of the time, being a vegetarian is simple. Mark Bittman has an awesome vegetarian cookbook, and most meals you confront in the outside world are served with vegetarian sides. Almost every restaurant is willing to be flexible when you are looking for meat-free options, and some even specialize in this. However, it does get trickier with a kiddo. For one thing, meat and protein are an important part of the human diet. We vegetarians talk a lot about eating only natural things, but consuming meat is one of the most natural things I can think of (it's the way the animals are treated, butchered, and served that causes the problems). Children need protein, and animal protein cannot be replaced by un-animal things, no matter how many legumes it contains. I may have a personal cause, but I cannot let my cause affect the health and well-being of my offspring. Also, I kind of think that kids should choose for themselves. After all, they are human beings, and a basic human right is choice. I let Everett pick out his shoes, his toys, and his books. Why would I then dictate his nutritional choices?

Because of these reasons, since Everett was born I have been buying organic, free range meat to balance his diet. And because I do not wish to poison my child or give him something inedible, I test everything I serve to him before forcing it down his throat. Therefore, I consume a little meat whenever it is served to him.

Lately, I have been cooking meat on a larger scale. I have made a couple pots of pulled pork, tried my hand at braised beef, and made a superduper chuck roast. Cooking meat is the easiest way to have a lot of food for many meals - I am over vegetarian chili!


We have been frequenting the Kendall Yards Night Market, which is a farmer's market for Spokane area producers held every Wednesday night. One of the regular booths is from Spokane Family Farms. We get Everett's milk from them whenever possible, and they offer whole chickens at a reasonable price (among other meat options) at the market.

The meat sold by the family offered everything I was looking for: local, free range, natural, yada yada yada. So I bought a chicken. While I was waiting for one of the workers to grab my future dinner from the freezer, another gal offered to show me pictures of the animals at the farm. After nodding and smiling over the happy animals running through the green pastures, the worker deposited 4 pounds of frozen bird in my hands. I looked at the now petrified critter, and let me tell you, based on the pictures I saw, this animal lived the good life.

Since the next day was my #telecommuting day, I planned to research chicken preparation options over my morning cup of coffee. I put the bird in the refrigerator to thaw (because that's what Julia Child told me to do), then determined that my method of preparation would be roasting - in my fantastic Le Creuset Dutch oven.

A few hours later, it was time to start. I unwrapped the bird, laid it on my carefully prepared "meat" cutting board, then went to work. Unfortunately, it was still frozen solid after many hours in the refrigerator. After consulting websites, YouTube videos, and my food guru, Katelyn, I discovered that the little lady was still frozen because she was still fully intact - all internal organs were still attached and frozen solid to the cavity of the bird. Thus began my thawing of the bird in a bucket of water. Let me tell you how attractive THAT looks.

When the little lady was soft enough to manipulate, I was able to open up her...flaps(?)...and see the junk inside her trunk. Per Katelyn's suggestion ("Just yank them out.") I took off my rings, reached my hand up in her business, grabbed, and pulled as hard as I could. NOTHING. "Get a wooden spoon and stick it in there. That's what I do, then shake it over the sink." I tried, and tried, and tried again. The gizzards were stuck, and excuse my language, but that bird had a really tight ass, and nothing was penetrating that business. I wish I could say I was elbow-deep in chicken gizzards at this point, but I was not lucky enough to suffer such a fate. Instead, now I had a bird with a mutilated ass, sitting tits up in a bucket of bloody water in my kitchen sink.

I should probably also mention my germ phobias. I guess subconsciously one of the reasons I gave up meat was because I was hospitalized for e coli during college. I started getting terrible symptoms right after eating a chicken dish (of all things) from a Vietnamese restaurant in Spokane. Not to worry, this establishment closed shortly after a few other people got sick eating the same dish; we know this because we tried to have them cover my hospital bills, but the owners flew the coop (pun). Since this debacle, I am the psycho who runs around the kitchen bleaching things as I go. I kid you not, with all the reaching and ramming, then YouTube-ing and Google-ing, grabbing and mutilating, then texting Katelyn every 2 minutes, I went through half a bottle of hand soap by this point. And it was the expensive hand soap I bought in Iceland, too!

At this point in the process I was getting frustrated. I did the most logical thing I could think of and called Spokane Family Farms to complain about this farce. I found their number on the bloody bird wrapper and dialed. "They should know that they overcharged me for this bird! If I'm going to spend this much money, shouldn't they have at least gutted the bird?" They didn't answer the phone, which was probably for the best...

So I bugged Katelyn instead. Her next suggestion was to work the organs out from a different angle. This meant my next job was to cut out the bird's spine. After watching YouTube videos of successful removal of chicken organs, I knew that I was in danger of severing something disgusting, causing a bigger mess than what I was already dealing with. Nevertheless, this was my only option, so I set about cutting a creature's spine from its body.

Crackle, crackle, crunch, CRACK, crackle, crunch...

"Everything is normal...this is all normal...there is nothing weird at all happening right now." I coached myself through the process and ended in success. The bird was backless, I could see everything inside, and I was finally able to remove all the bits and pieces. It's a good thing the organs were still a little frozen, because I did all this without popping anything putrid. Success! I texted Katelyn a picture (poor Katelyn!) and she confirmed that everything was clean and ready to go.

I set the girl back on the cutting board, boob-side up, and pulled off a few rogue feathers. After catching my breath for a few seconds, I got started on the next task. I was to push firmly on the breast until it broke and lay flat on the cutting board. So I did as instructed (by Katelyn), performing chest compression CPR on the breast bone until CRUNCH, it popped down.

BTW this whole hulabaloo I just went through is called "spatchcocking." I cut off the bird's wings at the joint, and was officially done spatching the cock. Spatchcock.

The celebration party did not last long, as I realized 2 hours of my life had been wasted attempting to remove organs from a chicken. I had invested a lot of time preparing the bird, but I still had another 2 hours left of flavoring, browning, and cooking.

When Jeff returned home around 7, it was officially an hour after I usually feed Everett. The poor little guy was starving by then and in a foul mood. However, when I removed the chicken from the oven, it was so tender that the meat was literally melting off the bone. While I cut the chicken into servings, I told Jeff about my adventurous day. He also wanted to see the pictures I took of the carcass for some reason. We soon sat down for dinner as a family and dug in.

I cut off a morsel of chicken breast and slowly brought it to my mouth. I breathed in, and it smelled like heaven. I brought it to my mouth and set it gently on my tongue. It was flavored to perfection and seemed to dissolve before I had a chance to chew. "Mmmmmm...Yummy." We ate in silence.

I looked over at Jeff after a couple minutes. He was chewing slowly and staring at me sideways with a worried expression on his face. The last time I saw him eating in this manner was when we ordered oysters from a chain restaurant (spoiler alert: they were disgusting).

"You don't like it?" I asked.

"I am savoring every moment of this because I know you will never cook a chicken like this again."

And he is right. I do not have it in me to take a lovely creature from its happy home, then spend WAY too much money on something that caused so many negative feelings. At one point I asked myself why I didn't just buy a Foster Farms chicken. After all, isn't butchering the poor FF creatures saving them from a life of misery? Trapped in a cage, eating food that isn't natural, and getting pumped with hormones? Sounds like a favor to me! And they are so cheap! Win-win!

Alas, I do not see any chicken consumption in my future. I will continue to buy an organic breast or two for Everett, but I personally cannot do the whole roasted chicken thing at this phase of life. It will take some time for me to get over the horror of my last #telecommuting day. 

To add insult to injury, today was garbage day. Everything within a 10 foot radius of our garbage can currently smells like rotting chicken carcass. No amount of plastic bags will protect the world from raw chicken gizzards festering in a 90 degree garbage can.

Screw you, Delicious Chicken! Thank you for being delicious, but we are officially OVER.

Monday, June 1, 2015


Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit Walla Walla with my mother- and sister-in-law. We drank all the wine, ate all the food, and soaked up all the sun. You can see a few of my pictures on Instagram. Given all components of the weekend's equation (wine, food, sun), it was obviously an incredible time. And I got to spend some time sans husband and child. 

Over the weekend the more populated vineyards seemed to be the ones south of town. It was definitely the most scenic, but we also enjoyed exploring the tasting rooms west of town. L'Ecole No 41 and Woodward Canyon were unique and beautiful venues, and they were quiet enough for us to enjoy a quick snack outside (read: sober up). My favorite is still Garrison Creek (south side of town), so be sure to schedule an appointment if you are going to be tasting in Walla Walla!

L'Ecole No 41

Beautiful field of mustard outside Amavi Cellars

Tasting at Basel Cellars

I have been getting a lot of compliments on my new clutch. Jeff's friend from home has an Etsy shop and she makes the cutest stuff. She works professionally with textiles, so she knows what the heck she is doing. This clutch was made out of real Pendleton wool - like, that she bought from the company. A few people have actually mistaken my bag for Pendleton, so that's a testament to the quality of her design. Anyway, I am going to buy another because I love it so much. 

Back to Walla Walla...

Everyone who knows me knows that brunch is my favorite pastime. We visited the two local hot spots for brunch: Bacon & Eggs and Maple Counter. Bacon & Eggs was theee best brunch I have ever had. The brioche french toast...mouth watering. And the vegetarian eggs benedict with pesto...bomb.

Driving through the Palouse during spring is breathtaking. Soon all the hills and farmland will be brown and dry. However, I caught the tail end of the Pacific Northwest's rainy season, so everything was still lush and the wildflowers were in bloom. Viewing this scenery was a great way to end a fantastic weekend.

When I pulled into the driveway, Jeff and Everett (pantless) came running out of house to greet me. It was so sweet that I started to cry. I wondered how I ever survived an entire weekend without them.
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