Sunday, February 28, 2016

And then there were 19

Almost halfway there; nineteen of forty-two adorable fancy foxes made for this quilt!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

weekend warriors

Something there is that doesn't love a wall - has been going through my head for weeks as we build ours. We bought this, our first house, in September. In October we took down the laurel hedge that screened it from the road, and started pulling up the weird little topiary junipers and pyramidalis that dotted the side of the driveway. Sixteen yards of compost came in late December - I suppose not everyone's yuletide present comes in the back of a dumptruck, but mine did this year. Landscaping blocks came in February. Hard to believe we've accomplished so much already; we've been here about five months is all. And there's so much more to do. But now I'll be satisfied when the rain comes back tomorrow; it can rain for a week for all I care; we can use a break!

Friday, February 26, 2016

vegan coffee smoothie to the rescue!

Ever have a Friday totally betray you and start acting like a Monday? What gives, Friday? How did I wrong you?

In the middle of the day, after a totally productive morning, I finally gave myself a break to go get my caffeine fix before a headache set in (yeah, I'm addicted). First, the coffee grinder was making a weird sound as I ground the beans. I opened it up to find that some of the parts had broken off and so *shrug* oh well, this espresso was brewed with coffee beans my sister-in-law brought back from Indonesia and bits of plastic from the coffee grinder. I really don't have another choice; there is literally no coffee walking distance from my house, and I don't have a car and I was working from home today. As my hubs pointed out: boiling water isn't going to melt plastic; it's fine.

Then I opened the fridge to find milk since I'll get the shakes if I take my coffee straight - no dice. Dang! I checked the cupboards, hoping we might still have a box of nondairy milk in there somewhere: nope. Okay, then - I had a bowl of almonds soaking in the fridge; I'd just make almond milk and then proceed with coffee! Only the almonds had been soaking too long and I found a little green spot of mold floating on the water. Double dang! I composted the moldy almonds (argh, what a waste! And no more in the cupboard to use!), washed the bowl, and stopped for a second to think.

That's when the coffee smoothie was born. I had left over almond grounds (from other batches of homemade almond milk) in a bowl in the freezer. I threw a few handfuls in the blender. Added an overripe banana from the kitchen table (it's the end of the week and we've eaten all our groceries, can you tell?). Realizing I could also clear out some real estate in the fridge, I added the last 6 or 8 dates from an ancient package, and recycled the plastic tub. Then I added nearly 2 cups of cold water and blended until it looked creamy and smooth. Then I poured in the coffee, blended some more, and voila! A coffee smoothie.

It was a little too sweet, with those dates AND the banana. But who cares? It was coffee! And as an unanticipated bonus: this bad boy (plus two full refills - I made a LOT of coffee smoothie) filled me up for another three hours of work and even some yard work - not bad for my only meal today!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Another portent of spring: with all the rain and warmer temps, fungi spring up overnight - they're everywhere! There's a certain magic charm to these diminutive specimens traipsing their way up a young tree like a cluster of ballerina tutus or the rounded backs of swans.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

at last!

At last! A break in the rain! The whole world seemed to be unfurling in the sunshine.

It's been the wettest winter on record; small wonder it feels like spring has been such a long time coming.

The wetlands are swollen and boggy with 23 inches of rain.

And in the middle of one marshy, soggy area, this little tree was spangled with white blossoms. It's clearly a member of the rose family - perhaps a hardly little wild crabapple? - and was wafting the loveliest perfume. It's been so long since I've smelled this apple/cherry blossom scent!

And just as things are flowering, mushrooms are fruiting, pushing stubbornly up through landscape fabric, undaunted.Anyone know what variety these are?

The rains were back today, but that one sunny Saturday gave me such hope for some properly warm spring days to come!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

cut and paste

For some reason, whenever I'm designing something, I still find it easier to break out the trace and do things by hand, literally cutting and pasting - as I'm doing here, cutting apart an old (public domain) fox engraving (whose linework I'd simplified) to morph it to fit to the curve of my shoulder for a new tattoo design. After taping it down, I taped down a fresh sheet of trace and redrew the fox with its new, longer body. Then I laid another sheet over that to start mapping out the curves of the rest of the design component - and so on. Despite the amazing digital tools at our disposal, I just don't feel like I'm in control of what I'm working on unless I can literally, physically, tangibly handle the thing.

And yes, there is kind of a coincidental fox theme happening here right now!

Monday, February 15, 2016

a quiet working day

Today is President's Day and I have the day off from work. I wish it were sunny out; I'd love to be playing in the garden - but this sunset photo is from a week ago, and right now the rain is falling in a steady gray mist. In fact, it's so sodden that we can't actually work on our garden projects because we can't properly tamp sand nor level the squishy wet ground to build retaining walls for our new garden or work on setting a paver path around our kubb pitch.

But it's not the end of the world; I have plenty of pleasant indoor tasks to do: tidying and cleaning and washing and scrubbing and ... stitching.

I'm trying my hand at Elizabeth Hartman's Fancy Fox quilt - a gift for friends. I love these pretty pinky-peachy-corals for a pretty little fox blanket; those cheerful florals would brighten up a much darker day than this! There's quite a bit of fussy cutting and stitching and recutting that goes into each of these blocks, but as I've got my strips all cut, I'm hoping it won't take me too long to get all forty-two fox faces made. It is delightful to see them come together!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

les fleurs

Outside I'm building my collection

Inside, I don't really wait for things to happen on Valentine's day; it's been months since we've had fresh flowers in the house, and I love how special they make a room feel. (There are pink stocks tucked in another corner, filling the whole room with the scent of cloves.)

I think those hellebores might be even prettier than these double tulips. Either way, there's something to be said for these hardy harbingers of spring; I love a rough-and-tumble beauty.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

February wetlands

 Is this a view only a Northwesterner loves? I can't help but wonder; it's a bit bedraggled, and soggy, and marshy ... but that moody sky, those bare trees, those flooded fields. There's nowhere else I'd want to be on a late winter day than here, mucking through.

In the sloughs and creeks the reeds are already springing up again, and Pacific chorus frogs were singing in the hollows, even in the middle of the day (that happens on these dark-ish low-ceilinged days).

It's cooler this year than last, but the native plants still indicate that it's warmer than it ought to be. These are evergreen huckleberries; their fruits are typically ripe in August. Last year, I found some blooming in January - February still seems too soon.

And it's a bit early for Oregon Grape, too, for that matter. say nothing of red flowering currents (though, to be fair, this was the only one this far along, and it's positioned in a particularly sheltered - and therefore warmer - spot than its brethren in this park).

All day the sun was playing hide and seek in the clouds ....

...the moody skies threatening rain every half hour - but it never fell ...

... and in the relative warmth of these shadowy hollows, life is already springing forth, green and fresh from a short winter's nap.

Friday, February 5, 2016

good eats

 we've been eating a lot more vegan meals this year (so far); I have a suspicion that my own palette has been changing of late, that I'm growing less fond of eating animals and animal by-products. We still eat meat once or twice a week, though, and as I type this there's a big container of kheer in the fridge that my hubs brought home for me (and about which I'm positively ecstatic) so we haven't completely switched over yet!

We made this Thai soup from Kraut-Kopf this week; it was incredible. I made myself sick on it, alas (too much coconut milk!)

This carrot-turmeric-dill bread is a freewheeling improvisation on Twigg Studio's beetroot and walnut bread. I think I'll try combining parsnips with sumac and nigella in next week's loaf!

And last but not least is Pinch of Yum's winter bliss bowl; this Buddha bowl features lentil-based falafel (confession: this might be the first lentil-based recipe that I've ever really, truly, passionately loved), raw spinach and red cabbage (we substitute radicchio for a touch of bitter), and cumin-roasted cauliflower and carrots in a delicious tahini sauce (I use the proportions from this recipe for the dressing, but skip the garlic). I've been making these all winter; I'm crazy for them!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

working late

There are days when I feel like I'm just ... running 24/7. And I do admit, I seem to give myself less time these days to just sit and daydream. I'm quite sure I'm very overdue for some daydreaming time, in fact. But at the same time, part of the reason these days feel so long is because they really are packed: work, exercise, eating right, blogging more, and more creative time. I'm more conscientiously pursuing my goals this year. This book project is my dream project; I should be working on it every day. It is exactly how I want to be spending my time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

renew, anew

Imbolc tonight. And Punxatawney Phil did not see his shadow. Winter draws to a close - and it really feels that way, at least in this part of the country. We laid a fire, bright and crackling with sparks.