January 31, 2011

39.5: a wonderful age to celebrate

For Mike's birthday (6 months ago) I gave him a winter weekend at the McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Bend, OR. I presented his gift in the form of flash cards, which he was quite tickled with, and which have sat on my desk for the last six months until it was finally "winter" enough to go. While the East Coast suffers under many feet of snow, those of us in the Pacific NW have had a very mild winter. We decided that this last weekend was the perfect time to head east of the mountains and remind ourselves what it looks like.

It proved to be more elusive than we thought, as we had to drive high up the mountain before we saw any. Our plan was to snowboard, ski and snowshoe, but we didn't actually do any of that. At $140, the snow on the slopes wasn't worth the money, and while we did trek through the snow, we didn't actually need our snowshoes as the snow was so hardpacked that our trail shoes were more than adequate. At first we were mildly disappointed, but then realized that sunny days, blue sky and gorgeous views were easily just as enjoyable as snow.

Bend is home to 7 breweries, and on this trip we checked out the Bend Brewing Co., Cascade Lakes Brewing and the brewery at the Old St. Francis School.

We also tried dinner (and breakfast) at the Old St. Francis (dinner was okay, breakfast was great). In addition to the on-site brewery and restaurant, the Old St. Francis also has a movie theater, with complimentary admission to hotel guests (we saw Due Date - which is a good movie if you don't have to pay for it).

We also tried the open air, saltwater soaking pool, which was incredibly relaxing. The only problem was that it's also open to the public, so we had to wait until 11 pm in order to enjoy it in peace. Not really a problem, as soaking in the pool was a wonderful thing to do before bed.

(photo courtesy of flickr, as 11 pm is not really a good time for taking photos)

Happy Birthday, Mike! Let's do it again in 6 months...

January 24, 2011

baa baa white sheep, how i love your wool

A few more Christmas presents... Sara and Susanna both got navy chain scarves (no photos sadly) and for each scarf I made a removable felt pin.

And Susanna got a Matryoshka (pattern from Laurie Sharp) and a lamb.

January 22, 2011

The Miracle of Yeast

Mike and I spent the last 3-day weekend up at Papa and Sharon's. We were looking for a chance to get away, relax and work on a few of our projects. While I sat in front of the woodstove working on some new hand-sewing projects, Mike hung out in the shop with part II of our mantle, and part I of our built-in shoe storage.

When it was time for our first carb-fix, Papa and Mike helped me make some soft pretzels. We made a double batch, with the second set made out of 4 cups spelt flour and .5 cup wheat flour. Both batches turned out very good, but I've learned that I need to be a little more heavy-handed with the salt.

On Saturday Papa baked many, many loaves of bread (sourdough white, sourdough spelt and sourdough with sundried tomatoes). We followed the bread up with some fresh pizza (carb fixes 2 & 3).

On Sunday we helped Papa bottle up his latest homebrew, a Widmer W-10 clone. He's got a great brewing system set up in the basement, and with Mike and I as assembly line workers we got the 5 gallons bottled up in no time.

Sterilizing apparatus

Gravity bottling system

Bottle capper

We left Sunday with a 6-pack of home brew and 3 loaves of fresh-baked bread... that ought to last us a week.

January 5, 2011

2010 wrap-up

2010 is history, and 2012 is future. My goal for 2011 is to be present.

No day is completely perfect, but of the last 365, most have been pretty darn good.
When I remember to think about it, I feel pretty blessed (new goal for 2011: think more about it). I've found over the last couple of years that it's very easy for Mike and I to focus on all that we haven't done and what we would like to do, rather than on what we've accomplished and what we have. This happens more often as we wrap up the 6th year of our house remodel and at times feel like we've gotten nowhere. I would like for this year to be a time where we recognize what we have, be grateful every day for it, and focus on the happiness of this particular moment. We're off to a bumpy start, but there's nowhere to go but up!

Raising a glass to acknowledging all the wonderful things that have happened in 2010!

In particular....

• I learned to needle felt! I love this craft, and thank my mother for introducing me to it. I could spend all day sculpting out of wool roving. And after a 10-year hiatus, I picked up crocheting again at the end of 2009 and have been going gangbusters for the last year. I made seven baby mobiles, seven dolls, four baby sweaters and countless toys and ornaments.

• As for our house, we have made very visible progress this last year. In addition to the new electrical, hot water heater and heating/cooling system, we also have a new deck and fire pit, a refurbished hot tub, two new awnings, a cob pizza oven, two purple doors, and good riddance to that damn yucca!

• We also got out of town a lot this last year, to new and old spots. In addition to many trips in the NW, we visited two new places in New Jersey, went to Florida for some more surfing and made our first trip to Ohio to see Sara & Bobby's new home.

Celebrations with family and friends were plentiful; everything from new babies and birthdays, to holidays and the long-awaited wedding of Sara & Bobby .

What does 2011 hold? Good things. I'm sure of it.

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