Friday, April 27, 2012

{this moment}

{a beautiful day for a fieldtrip to the zoo}
Joining Amanda.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

food fight

Today is grocery shopping day. I decided to ease into a lower grocery budget, so this month I am spending $600.00 instead of $700.00 (including animal feed and health & beauty items).
Next month I will see about getting it down to $500.00. I have a feeling that this amount may compromise our nutritional standards until our garden starts producing. We will see!

I will do my monthly bulk shopping today. We did pretty well last month and I only needed to stock up on a few things. We didn't eat many meals with beans, so I will use those up this month. I need to make hummus, bread, and yogurt this week also.......this week is going by so fast.

After watching Food Fight, a wonderful documentary on Netflix last night, I am re-energized about our eating. Sometimes I need a little boost to keep it up. Although it is tempting, I really don't like to buy any highly processed foods, especially snack foods. I prefer to make popcorn, bake something, or give them fruits and vegi's. The last hold outs are pretzels, tortilla chips, and banana chips.
Really the only reason I still buy these, is to pack in the kid's lunches. I plan to come up with some alternatives. We will still buy tortilla chips occasionally, but the other stuff is unnecessary. The show that I watched really emphasized that big agro-business makes the bulk of their profits in convenience foods. They cram as much cheap food into the products as possible. Since agro-business creates such a surplus of crops like corn and soybeans, that is what goes into everything we see at the big-box grocers. Organic and GMO-free processed foods are so expensive (and they should be, they are using quality ingredients), I just prefer to stay away from them, they are budget busters, for sure.
I love when I am reassured of our food choices. It gives me the strength to continue making good food. It really does take strength and conviction. It is hard to fight against an entire food system. Sometimes giving in is enticing. I will press on because I know it is the right thing to do, and our food choices are our vote.

I am just so glad that we do have choices. Making the right choice, that's the struggle.

Have a blessed and healthy day, Tami

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

edible landscaping

We are focused this Spring on increasing the amount of edible landscaping we have.
Last week, I planted a 4-in-1 semi-dwarf pear tree. I love this combo tree, because it is self pollinating. It is small but will produce lovely fruit for us in a few years. I would also like to plant two columnar apple trees near our kitchen patio, and maybe another dwarf fruit tree of some kind. We have a young 3-in-1 espalier apple tree and an ancient Italian plum tree in the yard already.
I have been trying to find shade tolerating berries for our front yard. We have a wonderful little local nursery that carries mostly native plants and trees, as well as local organic seed. So far, I am planning Evergreen Huckleberry, Red Huckleberry, Wintergreen, and Red Currant. These are all native to our area and should do really well. I have also heard that Hazelnuts do well here, I would really like having those. I would like to take up quite a bit of the grass in our front yard, it doesn't grow well anyway and will make for a more interesting yard. We'll see if I can get the Mister to play along. :~)
I have been wanting to try something called Poly-Culturing. This is where you scatter 6 or so types of specific seed in a smallish area, and just see what happens. The plants need to be beneficial for each other to make it work. As the season progresses seedlings are added to fill in the gaps and successive planting is also used to prolong harvest. I first heard of this is a book called Gaia's Garden. I'll need to read more about it, then I'll give it a go!

Have a blessed day, Tami

Monday, April 23, 2012


Every Spring I like to go through my closet. I don't have a large wardrobe, but I do like to replace the tired, with new to me pieces for the Spring and Summer. As soon as the temperature permits I am all about dresses and skirts. Even during the colder months you can find me in skirts with wooly tights and boots. I would like to be sure that each new addition to my wardrobe is chosen in the most eco-aware way. Buying used is always my first choice. I have an aversion to buying new, when there is so much clothing that is perfectly fashionable and usable that is already here and waiting to be found.

I would like to make or refashion a few skirts. I have always wanted to deconstruct a thrifted skirt for the fabric and remake it. I will make this a fun goal for the summer.
In the past, I have bought my t-shirts new. Second-hand cotton knits are usually so worn out by time they get to the thrift store, that they are not worth it. I have really liked Eddie Bauer for the fit and quality of their t-shirts. These days I am thinking a lot about where and how the cotton is grown and the devastating effects that it's production has. I will be making an effort to replace our cottons with organic, when the time comes. There are a lot of really great vendors on Etsy, and I can find sellers that are near to me pretty easily. There are also some really cute patterns out there for simple sleeveless pullover blouses. I would love a few of these in lightweight cotton, maybe refashioned from a man's dress shirt, or using the fabric from a thrifted skirt. So many options!

I am hoping to get one more season out of my casual sandals. I will definitely be replacing them with something sturdy that will survive the beach, walking, camping, and everyday wear (and last for many summer's). That is a tall order. I will still try and find a pair that are gently used, but if all fails I will buy new at a deep discount and hopefully through a earth-friendly producer.

To be the most frugal and eco-conscious, I would prefer to buy nearly everything used. Even yarn can be reclaimed by unravelling a sweater (I have done this and it works great). I stop short of undergarments, which for obvious reasons, I prefer new. It can be quite daunting to buy goods in a responsible way, there is so much we don' t know about the way things are produced. The more aware I become, the more I desire to keep these matters close to home, where I can be sure of how they are made. This is not possible in all situations, but every little bit helps.

I am just so happy that the weather is warming up, which means that I might actually get to wear these clothes that I am dreaming about.

Have a blessed day, Tami

Friday, April 20, 2012

spring break

The kids have been home on spring break this week. I love having them home during the day. We had a few sunny days and a few rainy. Today, the rain is non-stop. The kids have been outside as much as possible, even in the rain. We went to the park on Wednesday, it was beautiful and warm. We are having dinner at another family's house tonight, they also have 4 kids, so it will be a fun houseful. I am looking forward to a quiet weekend, filled with a just a little baseball. It's back to the heavy schedule next week. I have really enjoyed the pace of our week - sleeping in, lazy breakfasts, baking, and no big plans - just enough of a recharge to get us through until the end of the school year.

Have a blessed weekend, Tami

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


{day 1}
Here is a nifty little experiment I am working on. Growing celery from it's base. I read about it here.
I am also going to try green onions. I love renewable vegetables!

{day 7}
I can't wait until it's big enough to put in the ground! I wonder if the same head could keep growing over and over again. As long as I don't completely cut it to the ground, I bet it will keep producing. We'll see!

Have a blessed day, Tami

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

alphabet psalm

I mentioned one of the writings we did at retreat called the alphabet psalm. We were asked to use the letters of the alphabet as a guide for writing. It was a very interesting way to be inspired. I just started writing and let the spirit lead.
I want to share this, because I really need to practice the act of being open, but also as an act of memory-keeping for my children.

All around nature is coming alive.
Bursting forth greenly, then the
Colors come. All the colors in nature by God's
From the ground to the tips of the tallest trees.
Green everywhere, lush, dark, alive.
Having been through the gray winter now
Into the time of rebirth.
Just in time as the sun warms the earth.
Knowing that God's mighty power restores the
Land as He restores our spirits.
Now we feel alive as the earth comes alive.
Open your eyes and see it.
Praise God for the miracle of it. He sends the
Quenching and life giving, the
Rain is back to sustain the green.
Summer heat.
The bounty of food that grows
Up from rich soil to feed us. The
Very food we need to nourish our bodies.
We praise God. We
eXalt His holy name. We say
Yes Lord. A
reZoundining yes.

We were given about 15 minutes to write this. It is very raw and unedited. I loved the experience of just letting the words come. In the end it made sense, at least to me. I know that I used the x and z rather creatively :~)

This would be a great tool to use in other times also, maybe when I am struggling with something, as a way to pray. To help find the words.

Have a blessed day, Tami

Monday, April 16, 2012


Where do I begin about my weekend. I want to capture every bit of it, so that I never forget.

"God writes the gospel not in the bible alone,
but also in the trees and in the flowers and clouds and stars."
 Martin Luther

I live in a most beautiful place.
We are nestled near sleeping volcanoes, a glorious mountain range, quiet islands, evergreen forests, ocean beaches, rivers, lakes, a temperate rainforest, beautiful desert - all within this very state. Traveling a short while, we experience the glorious differences that only God could orchestrate together into such a compact space. This is what I love about living here in Washington State.

I was so blessed to be able to spend 3 days at a resort with a wonderful group of ladies from church.
I had no idea what to expect. I had never entertained the thought of going on retreat, it just never seemed like all of the effort to plan my absence was worth it, it was easier to stay home. Well, my children are older now, much more capable of helping take care of things. Alongside Eric, they cared for home beautifully.

A ferry ride and a bit of driving and we arrived on Friday afternoon. We had a very large meeting lodge that was full of cozy couches, tables & chairs, lots of warm coffee & tea, a beautiful view, and each other. Meals were served family style in another large lodge. This was no camp food. We were treated to real food. I think my favorite meal was the second night, when we had homemade bread with baked chicken, rosemary red potatoes, and steamed broccoli. YUM. Best of all no cooking or dishes for us! We were kept very well fed.

Each day we had 3 sessions. The theme of the weekend was kindling creativity and spirituality. It definitely stretched me to see creative ways to pray, and that we pray and worship in ways that we don't even realize. That our whole lives are prayer and worship if we see it that way. This is how I want to live for sure. I see that God being the original creator, that when I create, I am closer to Him.

"Creativity is God's gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God."

 What a blessing to have that side of me encouraged and purposed. We did quite a lot of writing using prompts. One exercise I loved was using the alphabet to write a psalm. One exercise that was uncomfortable for most of us was reading our writings out loud and accepting praise from others. It is difficult to expose yourself that way for most of us. I am not a person that likes to have the spotlight on me or take credit for things. I prefer to work with a quiet spirit and know that God sees. Whether or not others see is secondary. It is nice to be appreciated though, that is for sure. I was not alone in this, most of the women at the retreat took a bit of coaxing to relax and come out of their shells. our teacher had a special verse that she had us sing over and over throughout the weekend, which worked because now I can't get it out of my head :~)

"I will believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is."

We have the hardest time believing the beautiful and the good about ourselves. God does not want this for us. We are created in his image, and He is good. A beautiful truth. Period.

I had an amazing weekend that has given me so many things to ponder. Here is a prayer that I thought was so beautiful.

"God of passionate life, who sends the sparks, who lights the inner blaze and tends the flame, fill us with your radiance. Enkindle us with your love. Touch us with your goodness so that we will be the kindling of your generous compassion. May the truth we seek and accept shine through all we are and do. God of compassionate life, stir up the embers of your joy. In Christ, Amen."

We had a small worship service Sunday morning and then it was time to head home.
My family was so gracious to manage schedules and keep our nest tidy while I was gone. It was such a blessing to come home to peace and sunshine. I am glad to be home.

Have a blessed day, Tami

Friday, April 13, 2012

{this moment}

{I am heading to a women's retreat for the weekend, Yes!}
Joining Amanda.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

grocery challenge

{frugal breakfast - homemade yogurt & granola}

Have you ever seen how low you can get your grocery budget without sacrificing nutrition? Measure, weigh, calculate, and price out what meals really cost. Cut the junk completely, bake furiously, and plan everything down to the beverages.
I thought I would try, with careful planning, to see if I could participate in a $400.00 grocery challenge. I went to the Hillbilly Housewife's website to look at her emergency food budgets to get an idea of where to begin. For sure, if we were in a emergency, I would use it as a guide. For my purposes, I want to basically do what I am already doing nutritionally, but simplify it to the bare bones minimum cost. Call it an experiment.
I am sad to say that for my family of 6 in the area that we live in, it in near impossible. A $400.00 budget gives me about $13.30 per day to work with. Ouch. Even if I have a strict budget of a $3.00 breakfast total for 6 and $5.00 total for sack lunches, (popcorn for snack is under 30 cents)that leaves me $5.00 or so for dinner. This is not impossible, but really difficult. If we were mid-summer with the garden producing full swing it would be much easier. This is definitely a case for a big garden and putting up as much food as possible for winter.
I spent a few hours putting all these numbers together and quit because I got frustrated that we couldn't do it. But I am feeling a renewed sense of determination to be able to do this with a full garden. I think that maybe I will reduce our food budget to $500.00 and see if that is doable right now. Just for a month I want to see. In the summer, I will try again for the $400.00.
I like a good challenge.

Have a blessed day, Tami

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I am thrifty. Here are some of my favorite things.

I am a sucker for a piece with a story. On the back of the frame there is a note. In 1952, this panel was embroidered for a son by his mom, in 1993 it was cleaned and re-framed for the sons of the original boy. They gave it away in 2009. Sad, but lucky for me. I love to stare at all of the beautiful and intricate stitching.

My very hip distressed 1960's leather chair found on Craigslist, cheap. I had the seat recovered in velvety chocolate fabric and a new cushion made. The sheepskin is thrifted. This is my favorite knitting chair.

A very cool distressed brass lamp with a marble base. I added the drum shade. This lamp sits in our livingroom and gives a cozy glow to the room at night.

I needed a tray to sit atop my ottoman in the livingroom. A sturdy place to set my coffee or tea. I loved this. It is about 10x13 inches and has just the right amount of "well-loved" wear on it.

My most favorite find was sitting outside St Vincent's thrift store in a shopping cart marked "free". Maybe they had no idea what it was, or thought nobody would want to clean it up. It is the most beautiful, old, well loved, huge dough bowl. I can just imagine the hands of the mamas that have kneaded dough for their families in this bowl. By the looks of it, it has seen a lot of love.

Honestly, a major portion of the items I own are thrifted. It's just the way we do things. Apart from the everyday items that I thrift, I love finding those special items that I consider treasures. I am much less into thrifting-for-sport as I used to be. These days not much comes home with me unless it is needed. I really enjoy those treasures that I have found in the past though. And you never know what I'll find in the future. :~)

Have a blessed and thrifty Tuesday, Tami

Monday, April 9, 2012


{the leftovers from our massive pizza}
We had the most glorious sunny weekend. Spring has finally arrived here in the PNW.
I had a wonderful day on Friday, and as I requested, we ate at our favorite pizza place, Sorelli's. Next up was warmed peach pie with French vanilla ice cream for dessert.......Yum. Oh, and did I mention chocolate ?.....and lots of it. The good stuff.
We spent most of the weekend outdoors (hello baseball games). Sunday we welcomed family for Easter brunch. It is our tradition to host Easter each year. There is usually 20 or so including my parents, my brother and sister, and their families. The menu nearly always looks the same and is an indulgence. Sausage Breakfast Casserole, Cheesy Potatoes, Orange Rolls, Strawberry Romaine Salad, and my mom's famous Oatmeal Cake for dessert. Oh man, did we ever enjoy!

We spent a good amount of time in the yard on Sunday afternoon. I moved 3 small blueberry plants to this little garden. I am hoping that they like it better than being chomped on by hungry chickens :~)
My rhubarb is coming up nicely, and the snow peas are peeking out of the ground by the trellis. This little spot will be much prettier when it fills in.
The chicken garden is coming along, we are going to plant a semi-dwarf pear tree with 4 varieties grafted onto one tree. This will provide shade for them and fruit for us! Yes.
My kitchen garden will be quiet for several more weeks until the weather warms up. I can't wait. The only things that I have planted so far are Yukon Gold potatoes, lettuce, and snow peas.

Have a blessed Monday! Tami

Friday, April 6, 2012


I don't really feel one way or the other about it. I desire to grow older gracefully, not dwell on it. It's a moment in a blessed journey. I am content.

Today will be (and already has been) filled with hugs & kisses, well wishes, good chocolate, flowers, yummy food, a few special gifts, and fun times with friends and family. A perfect day.

Have a blessed day, Tami

Thursday, April 5, 2012

well said

I saw this quote and really liked it. It encourages me that I am right where I am supposed to be.

"I enjoy doing housework, ironing, washing, cooking, dishwashing. Whenever I get one of those questionnaires and they ask what is your profession, I always put down housewife. It's an admirable profession, why apologize for it. You aren't stupid because you're a housewife. When you're stirring the jam you can read Shakespeare." ~ Tasha Tudor

Have a blessed day, Tami

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

crazy week

This last week has been say the least.
If multiple sporting commitments every single day, weren't enough.....
My beloved 1955 Hotpoint Golden Anniversary Super Automatic Cooking Range died.
Panic set in on several levels. I LOVE that range, and also, I bake nearly everyday. And not always fun dessert baking, I mean bread, a necessity in my house. Oh and granola, a necessity for sure.
When I called the local appliance repair guys they told me that a range that old would need to be rewired to the tune of $1500.00-Whoa.
So I set out to find a new range. BTW, I am picky.
No digital controls. Appliances with a computer + me=BAD.
I really wasn't sure if I wanted gas. I have never cooked with gas, and I have heard that baking with gas takes a little getting used to.
And I am thrifty. I always thought that my next range would be a mid range, stainless, dual fuel, pro type, you know the ones.
When it came down to it I could bear to part with the money or my Hotpoint.
I took the back off my range (after I unplugged it) and saw that quite a bit of the wiring was new-ish. The previous owners had apparently had some work done on it. I was instantly hopeful.
I did a little more poking around and discovered the problem. The part that needs to be replaced is a simple fix, IF I can find the parts. If not, we will have to have the smaller oven re-wired only. This will only cost a few hundred dollars. Well worth it to not have to spend thousands on a new one. Or not at all, I am very hopeful that an antique appliance guy in Florida can locate the part for me.
In the meantime, I have one oven that works and the stove top works, and there is nothing that needs to be done with those. YAY!
I gave my range some love today and cleaned it inside and out. Having almost lost the privilege of owning this beautiful beast, I am so grateful to have it (mostly) working and looking spiffy. A happy ending to a very stressful week. Play ball!
It looks like No-Spend March is spilling into April. Yes.

Watch this video for a good look at my range and a good laugh!

Have a blessed day, Tami