Springtime Scenes

It’s springtime!!
The weather has been improving around here lately and we’ve so been enjoying being outside without it turning cold or rainy. (Although that still happens…a lot. It is after all, Washington State. And “warm” is a relative term….to us that means more than 50F degrees.) It’s supposed to warm up to 70F next week though- I am SO excited!

I’ve been trying to have us go on walks/hikes more often, to enjoy the outdoors as well as get some exercise. Here are some pictures of a few family outings recently, and just some springtime beauty.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On a walk through the woods at a local trail park

 

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up!

Our chickens are loving being able to eat all the new plants coming up

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love the sunniness of dandelions against these old transformer caps!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some of my favorite springtime flowers.

 

A walk on the beach turned up this cute little crab.

A walk on the beach turned up this cute little crab.

 

My sweet little girls

My sweet little girls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

I hope you have a lovely weekend and enjoy springtime! 🙂

Gorgeous Fall Colors

Last week the kids and I took a trip across the mountains with my Mom and Dad.

It was totally spur of the moment- one of those, “hey you wanna come with us?”

“um, YES!”

kind of things.
The weather had been foggy for days here, with no end in sight so when we had a chance to escape and cross over from dreariness to sunshine and warmth of course we jumped at it.

We dropped off a couple of deer at Owen’s Meats- the processor my family has used since I was a little kid, then we went around the ridge and over the river out to pretty much my favorite childhood places ever: Teanaway.

I’ve written about Teanaway before, here and here. It’s just one of those places that captures your heart and doesn’t let go, no matter how long it’s been since you were there last.

This time, the light was golden and it was warm out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The river was really low so the kids could walk on the rocks without fear of falling into swirling rapids…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So we did a little exploring and found some cool rocks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My sweet Mama helping the kids across the river rocks. They were so cute!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The trees were losing their gorgeous yellow and red leaves and it made for some pretty eye candy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We went nature-watching after we left the river, and drove around for a bit but didn’t see any animals. Then all of a sudden, when we were all looking out the side windows I looked out the front windshield and there was a 5 point bull elk RIGHT in front of us, standing on the side of the road!!

It was so majestic! Of course in the excitement, I forgot that my camera was sitting in my lap. 😦

But seeing him was really cool! He crossed the road in front of us, then faded away into the trees. What a great end to a relaxing day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We drove away as the sun was slowly sinking over the hills, wishing that we could just stay a bit longer.  Don’t you just love places like that, that bring life to your heart and are so beautiful it almost hurts?  I sure do. 🙂

The Garden, She is Planted. Mostly.

So, I bet from the title of my post you can guess what I’m going to write about.

Yup.

Our garden is finally in the works- most of the seeds are in the ground and a few are poking their brave little heads above the soil to open their leaves to the world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a Cherokee Trail Of Tears Black Bean.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I think this is a Calima Bush Bean. I think.

I am so pumped!

I really hope everything doesn’t die.

Sorry, that was bad English.

I really hope that most of the seeds survive- we’ve already lost all but two broccoli plants ( out of 6) and a couple of my tomato plants are about to bite the dust.
Thankfully, I have more seeds I can plant and replace the ones that died.
I also have a few crops that I’m going to wait until late summer to plant, like another round of broccoli, some parsnips, and turnips and then in the fall I’ll do another round of lettuce and spinach and cabbage.
Here is my garden plan: it’s super high-tech. See?

Who needs a fancy computer plan if you have paper and a pen?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That’s the only way I know what is planted where; I didn’t take the time to label everything in the garden. Maybe I will after the plants all sprout, we’ll see. There are some pretty cute ideas on Pinterest.

For those of you who can’t read my crazy drawing, here is what we planted:

Alaska Peas, Sugar Snap Peas, Zucchini, Sweet Postatoes, Soup Beans, Marigolds, Arkansas Traveller Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Calima Bush Beans, Zinnias, Red Potatoes, some other potatoes that were given to us, Black Beans, Amish Paste Tomatoes, Ox Blood Beets, Cherry Tomatoes, Oak Leaf Lettuce, Rocky Top Lettuce Mix, Spinach, Chives, Broccoli, Cilantro, Leeks, Chiogga Beets, Atomic Red Carrots, Half Long Guernsey Carrots, Radishes, Cabbage and Garlic.

Whew! I also have a bunch of herbs that are growing in containers, like Basil, Chamomile, Thyme, Oregano and some others that I still need to plant like Horehound, Borage and Yarrow.

I’m not sure where I’m going to plant those yet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For now, I’m just out there in the garden every day, pulling up grass roots and pesky weeds, anxiously scanning the dirt to see if any new seeds have popped up, and squealing when I find them. It’s the simple things in life. 🙂

“Pinterest-esque” Hair Self Portrait Fail

Okay, so here’s a funny thing that happened to me Tuesday. My hair is long and wavy, and looks like this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yup, that’s my hair.

But I usually wear it like this- to keep it out of my face and from getting caught in car seat belts and falling into food and stuff. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But then I saw this on Pinterest and thought, “Hey that’s pretty! I’ll try it.”

source

So I did. And it actually worked!! I was so elated, I tried to take a picture but got this…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and this…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and this…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and this….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And finally…this.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Really, how DO these girls take pictures like this?? I don’t know.

source

Sigh. You’ll just have to believe me when I say it was really pretty.

The end. 🙂

Springtime Fun in Skagit Valley

On Saturday, our family went on a little adventure up in Skagit Valley, Washington.

Skagit Valley is in Northwest Washington, nestled next to the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. It’s full of beautiful fields, rolling clouds, small towns and quaint villages.  There are berry farms, dairy farms, tulip farms and everything in between.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Burlington is probably the most “modern” town- all of the big box stores are there, like Costco and Target and Best Buy and the Cascade Mall is there. We go up to Burlington to go shopping every couple months.
Mount Vernon is just across the Skagit river from Burlington and still retains more of it’s small-town charm with a cute little downtown and artsy shops lining the streets along the river. Skagit Valley College’s main campus  is also located there.

Hubby had to go up to Mt. Vernon to get his Washington driver’s license and we made a nice day trip out of it.

After the business of the day was done, ( the kids and  I waited in the car while hubby got his license because Ellie fell asleep and it was raining like crazy) then we went to the Skagit Food Co-op for lunch.

The Skagit Food Co-op is like a grocery store/ deli/coffee shop where organic meats and dairy and produce is sold, as well as healthy dried goods, bulk items like oats and rice and dried fruits. There is also a pretty good-sized vitamin and body product section, as well as a mercantile upstairs that sells clothing, kitchen utensils and all around interesting stuff.

They also hold educational classes on natural living and wellness for the general public, which is cool. It’s kinda like a local version of Whole Foods Market.

We just ate at the deli and got some coffee and perused the selection of groceries. I expect if you’re a member (you pay an annual due and get discounts in return) , it may be worth your while to shop there but I found it somewhat overpriced for the things we usually buy- bulk steel cut oats and regular rolled oats were more than our local grocery store (which we consider on the more expensive end of things!) and the meat didn’t look any better than what we have  closer to home- it was the same selection for more money. I found a new appreciation for our local store after browsing around the Co-op.

They did have some really good local organic, heirloom seeds and seed potatoes/onions- if I hadn’t already ordered seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds I may have bought some there.

After lunch, we started moseying over to LaConner; a charming little town along the Salish Sea that separates Fidalgo Island from the mainland.

On the way we passed the world-famous Skagit Valley Tulip Fields.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They are SO beautiful!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Every year there is a tulip festival for nearly the entire month of April and there are fields upon fields of gorgeous tulips and daffodils for you to enjoy.
There is an admission charge to park and get out and walk through the tulips, but you can see them just fine driving by- which is what we did.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are also some really neat barns and farmhouses around that area, which I love.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After the tulips, we continued on to LaConner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s such a cute little town!!

We strolled around the square,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

browsed through some antique shops and a book store and then we saw a huge old section of a tree- it was like 7 or 8 feet around and just as tall. Incredible.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course, we had to walk along the channel and see the boats.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And no trip to a cute small tourist town is complete without  cheesy pictures- or ice cream!!
It was really good ice cream too- locally made with wild blackberries. Yum!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When we tired of strolling, we got back in the car and headed over to Anacortes, back on Fidalgo Island.

There is a park  way up on the hill above the city called Cap Sante Park.

And there is an AMAZING view our over the water from it.

On one side you can see Anacortes; on the other side you see the oil refineries and then out across the sea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Part of Anacortes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Oil Refinery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking the other way, out to sea. Isn’t that a huge ship?

The park pretty much consists of really big rocks that are kind of scary to climb on. (really, just scary to let your 3 and 5 year old clamber over. I kept envisioning them falling the hundreds of feet into the water.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Of course, they were careful and were just fine, although I did freak out once when Ellie ran toward the edge. It seemed like she was right on the edge, about to fall when in reality she was still about 10 feet away. That’s more than close enough though!

Anyway, the wind was cold and it was dinner time, so we left and headed home.

What a wonderful day!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
If you live any where near Skagit Valley, it’s definitely worth visiting. We love it there.

Foraging: Chickweed

One of my goals for this year is to try to incorporate new plants into our diet by foraging for greens and herbs that commonly grow as weeds or that have been growing in our yard and we didn’t know we could eat.

Chickweed is one of the first I’ve been wanting to try.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve always known chickweed was edible for rabbits and chickens, but imagine my surprise when I was flipping through an herbal encyclopedia and there it was as an herb!

Chickweed commonly grows in shaded, semi-moist areas; I’ve usually found it growing on the north side of our house or in shady flowerbeds. It’s kind of hard to describe what it looks like; it has small star shaped white flowers and is a low growing plant that spreads across the ground, typically no higher than 10 inches or so. It is found pretty much in every region except Antarctica, so chances are you have some growing near you!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It has a nice, fresh taste- not bitter at all, and when chopped up into small pieces fits really unobtrusively into a salad. Make sure you chop it finely though because the stems can be stringy otherwise.  I picked some last week and stuck it in a salad and the menfolk ate it without even noticing what it was! Not that you need to sneak it…but some people might be weirded out by thinking they are eating chick weed from the yard.

Why would you want to eat chickweed?

It has great nutritive benefits!

Chickweed helps your body absorb nutrients more effectively.  It helps reduce inflammation, is an expectorant and can be used to help reduce phlegm from common colds. It also helps improve digestion and soothes the kidneys, sore throats, bladder, urinary tract and when eaten regularly even can possibly help reduce cysts in the breast or ovaries.

Chickweed used as a poultice can be used for skin conditions like bug bites and stings, and helps draw out puss from infected cuts. For even better healing properties, you can combine it with plantain leaf when making a poultice.

We feed it to our chickens and they love it, and the kids just pick it and eat it raw sometimes, right from the plant. I love finding herbs growing in our backyard!

Of course, I am not a doctor and cannot prescribe treatment for anything, and these statements haven’t been approved by the FDA. I’m sharing what we’ve done as a family and from the herbal knowledge that has spanned centuries of use. Make sure you know without a doubt what you are eating before you go picking random flowers/plants from your yard or the forest as there are poisonous plants out there! 

For more information on chickweed, check out this website or this one or go get yourself a great herb encyclopedia.

We have an older similar version of that book and I LOVE it!

I don’t get a commission from Amazon for recommending this book, it’s just a great one to have in your library.

Have you ever tried chickweed? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Shared at Wildcrafting Wednesday.

Our Life in Pictures

Hey, everyone!
It’s been a bit since I did an informative post, mostly because I’ve been pretty busy lately, but hopefully later this week I’ll have something to share . For now, here are some pictures of my beautiful everyday life:

My dad brought home a bunch of branches from a tree job he did, and this is how he and my brother (in the excavator) got them out of the back of the truck. Pretty smart, I think! It sure was cool to watch!

My dad brought home a bunch of branches from a tree job he did, and this is how he and my brother (in the excavator) got them out of the back of the truck. Pretty smart, I think! It sure was cool to watch!

My current knitting project: a scarf for my mama. I hope I get it done before it gets too warm to wear it!

My current knitting project: a scarf for my mama. I hope I get it done before it gets too warm to wear it!

Eliana and I made cookies Saturday morning while Hubby and Ethan were at a men's breakfast.
Eliana and I made cookies Saturday morning while Hubby and Ethan were at a men’s breakfast.

Cookies! (my mom actually made these ones)

Cookies! (my mom actually made these ones)

Yes, we have an indoor clothesline. Because we have lots of wool clothing. And it rains so much we always have things to hang up to dry!

Yes, we have an indoor clothesline. Because we have lots of wool clothing. And it rains so much we always have things to hang up to dry!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My to-do list today. I can cross off "blog post" now! :)

My to-do list today. I can cross off “blog post” now! 🙂

Books from the library. We go about once a week, and the kids love it!

Books from the library. We go about once a week, and the kids love it!

My fabric stash. I can't wait to make something from that fabric on the top! Don't know what I"m going to make yet though.

My fabric stash. I can’t wait to make something from that fabric on the top! Don’t know what I”m going to make yet though.

Oranges and grapefruit are on sale right now. They're a little bit of sunshine in the rainy days!

Oranges and grapefruit are on sale right now. They’re a little bit of sunshine in the rainy days!

We had  a lovely weekend full of bonfires, pruning bushes, easy dinners and lots of sitting by the fire reading. I hope you have a great week!!

Friends, Firehouse and Fiesta

On Saturday, our family drove a couple hours north to visit some friends.

Laura and I have been friends since I was 14 and she was 15; we’ve seen each other through high school drama and written letters to each other for years ( yes, with real paper and everything!), been in each other’s weddings and now are enjoying the times when our families can get together!  We get some girl time, the hubbys can hang out and Laura’s kids Zeb and Lydia can play and become friends with Ethan and Eliana. I feel so blessed to have such a sister-friend; God has truly given me a wonderful gift in her.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A picture of Me (left) and Laura (right) from 1999.
We were 15 and 16.

Aah! 1999 seems so long ago! Oh wait. It was. hee hee. 🙂

Anyway…

So, the drive north is BEAUTIFUL; with sweeping fields,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

foggy foothills,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

gorgeous farms

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and of course on a clear day like Saturday; Mt. Baker.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Someday I’d love to actually go up on the mountain and explore. That would be fun! Seriously, ya’ll. It feels like you’re in a movie or something. The majesty just blows you away.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Anyway, we visited at the house and the kids caught chickens and ran around and played (they really miss our chickens!), then we went to the beach and found some cool creatures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was COLD so we only stayed for a few minutes, until our fingers and noses were feeling numb and the wind was blowing straight through our coats to chill us to the bone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then…

We went to the fire station.

Laura’s adventurous hubby Bryan is a volunteer fireman and was kind enough to show us around and let the kids wear his gear.  Ethan (my 5 year old) LOVES firemen and fire trucks and is convinced he is a fireman and will live in a fire house someday, so this was a big deal for E. 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bryan telling Zeb and Ethan about the tools firemen use.

He had SO much fun! The other kids did too; it was pretty cool even for us adults, I must admit. I’ve never seen the inside of a fire station, where the firemen hang out and watch tv and cook and sleep, so this was neat.

The inside of the station honestly reminded me of a small college dorm…with little rooms with a simple twin bed and a computer in each bedroom, then a large common room with a tv and kitchen. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t a fireman pole to slide down. I guess they don’t do that anymore?
And the alarm for a fire isn’t super loud, like in the movies. It’s more of a tone that chimes throughout the station.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ethan looks pretty happy here. 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bryan holding Eliana and Lydia

When we’d toured the entire station, played in the trucks, talked about fire safety and not to be afraid of a fireman if you see him in your house and saw all of the fire hoses, we went back to hang out at Bryan and Laura’s for a while, then they surprised us by taking us out to dinner at a delicious Mexican restaurant. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten out with another family with kids- it went fairly well, considering there were 4 pretty bouncy kiddos. 🙂 And did I mention it was delicious? Usually when we eat out for Mexican, I just wish I’d stayed home and cooked our own food because ours is better, but this was really good. Maybe we just usually eat a crappy Mexican restaurants.

So that was our trip! It was so much fun, such a relaxing Saturday with dear friends.  I hope you had a great weekend!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lydia and Eliana had so much fun giggling together! They were hilarious.

Winter Fun

Well, it’s almost Christmas and we’re really enjoying all the fun that comes with the holidays!

Yesterday we made sugar cookies and decorated them with homemade frosting in blackberry and orange flavors, as well as regular icing and green icing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last night my brother Brian and family friend Chris came over and we played games late into the night.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Me and Scotty, my youngest brother

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Look at that concentration!

Then, this morning, we woke up to snowflakes falling from the sky!!

Of course it didn’t stick around, but the kids had fun anyway while it lasted.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ethan “Snowplowing”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The view out our back door.

The snow was long gone before this afternoon, but we sure enjoyed it while it was here! Maybe we’ll get more soon.
Has it snowed yet where you live??

I hope we get at least a few good snows this year. We’ll see!