Friday, July 27, 2012

Berries, Bread and Black Eyes

It's a random combination, but one post is better than 3 tonight.

Hmmm, First up. Berries!

We are in berry heaven right now in the Pacific Northwest. And we, especially on this property are really loving berry season (well at least me and the fruit eater, Brendan). At the beginning of July the little wild blackberries (Pacific Blackberries, I think) come on. They are hard to find as they don't grow on huge bushes like the giant ones that are in every ditch around here come the end of summer. These grow in clear cut areas where trees have fallen, where it is brushy and their vines spread out everywhere. They are the best for pies because they are small, tart and not seedy like the big ones. We have bazillions of all kinds of black berries out here around our house. We have been picking them for a couple weeks now. I have already made and eaten a pie (with Brendan's and a couple others help) and have several other "pies" in the freezer. Berry heaven, I tell ya. I love going picking in the morning or the late evening when it is cool, taking a bucket and my boots and tromping through our woods. Love it!

Besides blackberries, I picked up 2 flats of raspberries from the local berry farm and froze half and made jam from the other half. And while that isn't exactly breaking news, I did make the most delicious frozen yogurt with some of them. After I froze the berries I took several cups and chopped them up in the food processor with sugar. Then with the food processor running I added plain yogurt and lemon juice and processed until smooth. It. Was. Delicious! It was the consistency of soft serve and tasted like yummy fresh raspberries.

Second, Bread.

Not breaking news either, but one of my favorite chores that I do almost every week is making bread. I make 2 loaves in my mixer (no kneading!) and it almost always turns out perfect (except last week when a power surge fried my oven in the middle of my bread rising and then I had to punch it down like three times and my oven wasn't fixable and so they ended up being baked out in my sister's trailer and they collapsed and didn't brown, but were still eatable...) Anyway, they are like little treasures.

Lastly, Black-eyed Brendan. (I think I may have written this random post in the wrong order, I don't know)

Brendan got another good shiner going off a bike jump and totally wrecking. I don't think he was going very fast, but he didn't have on a helmet, which probably would have saved his face. Nice road rash under his eye and some bruising. It wasn't as scary looking as the baseball injury, but this one took off skin so we are treating with vitamin e and other things to try and reduce scarring. It's the summer of black eyes for Brennie. Poor thing. He sure is a tough kid. More protective gear is in his future. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Operation Cousin Celebration

It is so exciting to look forward to and then begin something so fun (like having your sister and niece and nephew for neighbors for 3 weeks). It is such a bummer when all the fun comes to an end, as it inevitably has to. It very well could be that we just wanted an excuse to have a party, but we decided to have a "cousin birthday party", if you will, at the end of all our fun together. None of the cousins really get to celebrate their birthdays together and so we had a Cousin Celebration. Very simple. Individual ice cream cakes (Uh! Why haven't I done this before???) Candles just because. Bubbles for presents. Those kids are still so easy to please and it doesn't take much to turn a normal day into a party. I think we may have started a tradition.

I love these kids!

Saturday, July 14, 2012


We had an awesome summer storm last night. It started in the evening and went on and on and on. Summer storms here in Washington aren't all that common. In Phoenix, summer=monsoon season. You expect to see a storm somewhere over the Phoenix area nearly every night during the summer. On the east coast, at least for the little while we lived there, it seemed like we got to experience quite a few summer thunder storms. Western Washington is known for it's mild weather. No major ups, no major downs, so we only get the occasional big storm. Yesterdays storm was out of the blue (I swear I checked the forecast in the morning and it had just sun for the next 10 days.) Anyway! This is a long, drawn out way to say that storm last night was awesome! It was loud and the rain was huge and it was warm and muggy. I loved it. It had kind of moved on when all of a sudden there was a HUGE crack. I jumped up just sure all 6 of the sleeping children were going to be freaking out but nope. They slept right through it. I have no idea how. Well the next day when my mom came over she said that one of our trees got struck by lightning. We went to check it out! It looked like the tree was just grazed by the bolt. It wrapped around and striped the tree like a candy cane. Bark exploded and it was everywhere. I'm sure it is what we heard. I'm so glad it wasn't closer!

The bark just flew!

Thursday, July 12, 2012


It's almost the opposite of our ex-Arizona life. Oceans instead of deserts. Lakes instead of pools. Rain instead of "dry" heat. And outdoor fun in the summer instead of in the winter. I can't say I loved one and hated the least not totally. I really like Phoenix, but I really, really didn't like summer there. It's too long and it's too hot. So I am really loving summer right now, especially knowing what I'm missing. We are having real summer weather which has everyone just jumping for joy. Rand and I are still thrilled to wake up to cool mornings with cloud cover and knowing the "heat" will only be for a little bit. The cool nights and mornings are practically unbeatable.
We recently went to the ocean and it was freezing. And windy. Some of our group didn't stay long because of the so-called-bad-weather. But oh we who have suffered through horribly hot summers weren't going anywhere. It's the ocean! And it is awesome!

Easton isn't much of a fan of touching the ocean. He prefers the sand as one would expect.

See how happy he is?

Today to beat the heat....actually it wasn't to beat the heat, it was to get everyone out of the house for a while because it is so impossible to keep up with the cleaning and feeding of our small army. At least if we aren't home it can't get any messier! Anyway, we went downtown to the Olympia fountains. It sure is fun watching our kids have fun. Me and Rach, we talk about the fun we will have someday when all our fun isn't all about our kids' fun. But for now, watching little ones run through splashing water is pretty fun!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


For part of this summer I get to have my sister, Rachel, and her 2 kids as my neighbors! It's super nice having her here to help with kid watching and meal making and house picking up. Plus, I like hanging out with her (and my niece and nephew). I wish it was going to last longer. She drove out here with her trailer from Kansas and has it parked right next to my garage. All the kids, except the 2 youngest sleep out there every night. It is so fun. The 3 oldest are absolutely best buds. They will have a real hard time when the fun comes to an end in a couple weeks. We have already done a lot with the 4th of July festivities and then going to the beach, helping my mom move and lots of running around here constantly. It's a wild and crazy blast!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The 4th

We had some big plans to go somewhere and enjoy festivities for The Fourth, but changed our minds last minute and kept it much more low key. I'm glad we did. We ate pizza and started a bon fire and lit sparklers and ate s'mores. It was really quite nice. The kids were so tired yesterday that everyone took really good naps in the afternoon (even the big kids) and so around the camp fire everyone was in good spirits and not overly tired. They took turns telling ghost stories and we went to bed late. We could see lots of awesome fireworks all around us (surprisingly) and so we enjoyed the best of both worlds!

The boys. Recovering from their party the night before.

Rand and Annabel having a very serious conversation aobut the evening plans. :)

The Parade

After our crazy late night on the third we all slept in and then rushed out the door to the Tumwater Parade. I like parades, but honestly, when did they become about advertising for businesses? Boring! We left before it was over because it was long and slow and pretty boring. The kids decided rolling in the grass behind us was more fun than watching the parade. Lots of people running for office rolling down the road in the back of a pick-up truck with a couple of their friends all waving campaign signs. Albertsons came by with EMPTY grocery carts and a big truck to advertise their upcoming remodel. What??? At least fill your grocery carts with candy. There weren't any marching bands and there were very few horses, and Easton was scared to death of the HotRods that kept reving their engines right in front of us. There wasn't even anyone throwing candy. NO ONE. If one of the people running for county commissioner would have been throwing candy, I might have been convinced to vote for them. I guess that's how shallow I am. :) Or maybe I thought parades were supposed to be more fun? Well, it was fun in it's own way. The kids were cute.

the one and only clown and the one and only candy offerning. 20 mins. before the parade started.

She didn't mind the noise...or the lack of candy