Wednesday, March 31, 2010


It is the end of March. Not only the end of March, but a cold, blustery, stormy lion of an end to the month of March! That's not what has me so confused. What is so confusing is all of the talk of Oregon being such a wonderfully temperate place to live. So what's with Wisconsin getting 80F weather and Salem sitting at a chilly 54f?!? You lucky ducks!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bedtime Stories

Not your typical bedtime story. Since I've felt so nauseous, I've spent a lot of time resting in bed and feeling really bored at times. Books have been primetime entertainment around here lately. Who says it needs to be night time for a bedtime story?? These are the books I've been reading lately:

Digging up buried treasure in the form of family legacies and secrets...
Steve may have a great-great-great grandpa named Dolphin!

My mom has created our very own chapter-a-day with this riveting true story about a missionary couple abducted by Islamic terrorists in 2001, prior to the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the US. It's a first-hand account by the wife, Gracia Burnham.

Steve and I have been working our way through book 1 "Redwall" of the Redwall Series. It's very fun and slightly reminiscent of the Chronicles of Narnia with its many distinct animal characters.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Prayer Request

I wasn't planning to blog since we haven't been feeling well, but I feel we need some more specific prayer.

Steve is in probably the toughest part of his sickness and working his way back to feeling healthy. He's been taking some medicine that's helping, but since it's a virus he has to wait for it to run its course. Always a difficult thing to do.

I, on the other hand, have been fighting nausea again. It seems to come and go, and appears mostly in the morning accompanied by anxiety. I slept almost all day yesterday, and then didn't sleep well at all last night, awakened around 6am by fire engine lights flashing through the curtains. I still don't know what that was about, but they were only there for about 15 minutes.

Anyway! Your prayers for Steve to recover and be able to get back to work on Tuesday would be great! Prayer for me to be patient through the bouts of nausea and anxiety and to get a little more energy as well as rely on the Lord are also most appreciated.

Thanks guys.

We love you!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saturday Night Fun

I can tell we're not college students anymore. ;) We spend the majority of our Saturday nights at our friends' house (Jon & Kari) with their kids Jonny (4) and Lily (3). Sometimes their little niece is there as well. We brought Jack last time. The kids loved him!

While they loved Jack and had a lot of fun playing outside, Steve is still one of their favorite toys!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Dinner in the African Sahara

Steve and I decided to create a dinner from the African Sahara. It was interesting to research the foods and regions. We decided to draw mostly from Egypt and Algeria.

Our dinner consisted of (starting from top left, clockwise) greek yogurt, koshary (a dish made with lentils, macaroni, and rice with a spicy tomato sauce), pine nut couscous, and African-style peanut chicken.

We also had finger foods consisting of peanuts (in the Sahara it's common to find them boiled), dried fruits, and pumpkin seeds. I doubt pumpkin seeds are native to the Sahara, but I'm too cheap to buy pistachios. =)

This last dish is called Salep or Sahlab, and can be made as either a warm drink or a pudding, popular in Egypt. Its consistency depends on how much thickener (cornstarch or rice flour) you use. Drinking it cold reminds me of eggnog. It's made primarily of milk, cornstarch, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon.

I'm thinking we're going to have a Thai night soon. Yum!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lost & Found

It's only 8am. This little guy completely personifies my current state. It's shaping up to be an interesting day. I was supposed to go to an appraisal at Fred Meyer Jeweler's this morning, only to find that I can't find the appraisal pieces anywhere. Last night we tore the house apart looking for them. I had put them in one of those proverbial "safe places" that's safe from even me and my memory, the one who put it there! Now I have to cancel the appointment. It's frustrating since I've been waiting for this for weeks! Grr!

I have to go back to Shopko after having just been there yesterday. Steve was goofing around and grabbed me by the shirt collar, not realizing he also grabbed my brand-new, 5-hour old necklace. It broke, of course. It can be fixed. One of the knots just came undone. I figure we can chalk it up to cheap construction and exchange it. If not, Steve has pledged to fix it. So, lost is the necklace, for now.

Then, last night, I proceeded to forget my purse at Subway on the way to bible study. We got to church and had to drive right back to the restaurant. Steve decided to make a show of it. I was waiting in the car since I was the driver (and it would take longer for me to get it than for Steve - he disagreed). He decided to play a little joke. He grabbed the purse off the back of the chair and came out to the car, which was parked directly in front of the large glass windows. Everyone was watching him since we had just been there. He lifted my purse up over his head in a victory motion. People started laughing and smiling. Then he got in the car and made me kiss him while everyone was watching so they would know he's my hero. Totally embarrassing, but I have to admit I laughed too.

So, that is the lost portion of this post, not to exclude my mind. I'm sure it's out there somewhere. I just can't find it.

This morning we woke up around 6:30am. We found we both weren't feeling the greatest, but got up and got going anyway. I was planning to walk to work with Steve, but he preferred a ride since he wasn't feeling good. We got out to the car and discovered it was covered with a wintery frost. What?!? It wasn't supposed to frost! My poor primroses were outside all night! Steve went digging in the trunk for an ice scraper. Being a Wisconsin-native and having too much experience with scraping windows, I decided to go with an old stand-by: my laminated library card. It still works great!

Steve got to work only to realize he forgot his phone at home. I ran home to retrieve his phone and brought it back to him. I sure hope the rest of the day isn't so yo-yo-ish. I'm tired of the back and forth and digging for things and it's only 8am!

Here's to a simpler day and a wonderful walk in the afternoon with Kari and Jack, the dog-in-law.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Seed-Starter Pots!

I just finished making these pots from old newspaper, thanks to Robert & Cathy.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


We had a great time with Jon & Kari at IKEA. We found some great deals on some really cool items.

One of my favorite regular deals at IKEA is their Tekla dish towels (.49 cents each)! They're great for every day use so you can keep your nice towels looking nice for when company comes or special occasions.

After my Wal-Mart ironing board broke, I was so excited to find this cute, little one for only $5!

Our great find of the day was this cool rug for the living room. We also bought another sepia-ish floral area rug for our bedroom. Feels great to do some spring cleaning and make these fun additions to our rooms!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Enjoying Saturday

Today Steve and I had a fun time with Jack at Minto-Brown Park. I was so happy he got to come along this time! We really wore Jack out.

Jack in hot pursuit of his favorite toy - the tennis ball. See it?

Jack got so tired, but he always came back for more. He loves to play. He met another puppy today and was licked in the ear. He wasn't a huge fan of that. He prefers his toys over meeting new friends. Silly boy.

While we were walking, I saw this furry thing. At first I thought it was a giant caterpillar. Then a mouse. Then I realized it was a tiny, little mole! So cute! I petted him and Steve and I traded holding Jack so he could see it too. Jack just wanted to pounce on it. Steve let Jack sniff it, but didn't let him touch it.

Thanks to my sister, Julie, Steve got this awesome t-shirt for a great deal! He's planning to wear it tonight when we go over to his parents for game night! Fun fun! Thanks, Jules!

We're currently watching "Where The Wild Things Are". Very unique, fun movie. I can see why my nephew loved it so much and wanted to be Max for Halloween. Love you, Eric!

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Favorite Color

Green. :) Yes, I'm on a green kick. It's always been my favorite color, but now it's also a fascinating philosophy to me as well. I love the idea of saving a piece of wilderness and beauty for my family, and I know Steve loves the idea of saving waste-money (expenditures that really serve no purpose - excessive heating/cooling, late fees, cheap junk that breaks and needs to be replaced constantly - like our old bathroom scale that cracked right down the middle - yikes).

According to this Carbon Footprint Calculator, our estimated greenhouse gas emissions (as a two-person household) are 21 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per year, which is below the national average (53 tons per two-person household). It's quite higher than the world average of 11 tons. Most people's trouble spots are driving/flying and home energy. Ours tend to be home energy and food and diet. We run errands throughout the week, but our only regular trips are to church on Sunday morning & night and Wednesday nights, and going to hang out with Jon & Kari on the south side of town. Since Steve walks to work every day and I'm working around the house the majority of the day, we don't travel a whole lot. We also didn't fly anywhere in the past year. However, we drove about 5k miles to see family in Wisconsin and to pick up the rest of my belongings. Overall, I find our result interesting and motivating. I want to see how low we can practically get that number. There's no way I'm going to substitute toilet paper with cloth rags. That's a little too extreme for me.

As I research ways to reduce my carbon footprint, I count 12 light bulbs currently lighting my living space. Those are just the lights I can see from where I'm sitting. Ridiculous! We have these beautiful iron light fixtures, but they all use four to six candle-shaped light bulbs. It's crazily impractical. Since we don't own the house, I've been thinking of putting lamps with compact fluorescent bulbs in each room so we don't use these ancient, energy-sapping lights. I know Steve will take some convincing, but if I can show him a little more cash in his wallet, I know he'll be more likely to jump on board. We all can use a little more money.

These are things I either have started doing or would like to start doing immediately to reduce my carbon footprint and improve my quality of life:

Reduce gas/oil consumption and pollution by walking and biking more places.

Buy local food (farmer's markets, bakeries, and Bob's Red Mill).

Great Harvest Bakery!

*Grain is grown in Montana, not locally. Not sure if this qualifies as local.*

Grow our own produce and trade with other gardeners. (tomatoes, lettuce, herbs)

Cook at home more often rather than eating out and using disposable utensils and packaging.

Beef & Broccoli Stir-Fry

If needing to buy something, try to find it used first (thrift stores/Craigslist) or create it at home (sewing, building).

Use only cloth shopping bags.

Turn off lights and appliances when not needed.

Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving bulbs.

*Use lamps with one-bulb or even beeswax or soy candles instead of multi-bulb light fixtures.*

Make energy-saving home repairs: windows, doors (esp. mail slot), closing the fireplace flue.

Put on more clothes or put a log in the fireplace to reduce the cost of heating the whole house.

Fill a reusable bottle with filtered water from home instead of purchasing bottled water.

*Also to replace plastic cups when buying fountain drinks.*
(I could skip fountain drinks altogether, but Steve LOVES his Pepsi.)

Read books and play board/card games instead of watching so much TV & playing video games.

I'm excited!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Short-Term Impact or Legacy?

It's better to give than to receive. I love giving gifts.

What do I consider the best gift? Life. God's greatest gift to us is eternal life. In addition to that amazing thought, Steve and I are so excited to have kids, to give life to another little person.

What's the second best gift? Quality. God didn't just give us life. He gave us the best quality of life - eternal life! We can give our kids life (if it's God's will, of course), but we want to give them a great quality of life.

I thought about this and it made me wonder what we're doing to create a better environment and a better world for our children and their future, as well as for ourselves.

These are the things we currently do to help reduce our impact and leave a better legacy:
  • Use old clothing scraps to clean the house.
  • Turn lights off when we leave the room.
  • Put on more clothes and use the fireplace to provide warmth instead of turning up the heat.
  • Shop at the local farmer's market in summer months.
  • Freeze foods to increase their "shelf-life" so we don't throw out so much spoiled food.
  • Bring reusable shopping bags to the store.
  • Researching if I can sew items before buying them.
  • Before buying cheaply made furniture, Steve researches the cost and often builds it himself.

What are tips and advice you can offer?


The weather teased us with some beautiful warmth and sunshine, and then a little cooler, windy weather. Today it's just downright nasty out. Wind, rain, mud, clouds. Yuck. Poor Jack doesn't get to go to the park today.

The best way to combat rainy days is to rehibernate (my word creation) with some good books, a fire, and some crafts.

I'm also excited about tomorrow night because I found a free musical "Hadassah: The Story of Esther" presented at the historic Elsinore Theater - a gorgeous building right here in Salem that I've yet to visit! I know the musical probably won't be biblically accurate, but it's exciting to see the history of Israel and God's people on center stage for once!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rain, Strawberries, & Plane Tickets

Rain: normal. Strawberries: delicious. Plane Tickets: exciting!

I walked to the store in the cold wind and cloudy skies. I walked home in the rain. Yet I was happy because I remembered my reusable grocery bags and I found everything I needed to make chicken enchiladas. Yum!

I found strawberries on sale and they look amazing.

Steve and I are seriously looking for plane tickets today and trying to choose dates that work for everyone (our schedules, rides to and from, pocketbook). There are some really great deals out there! Time to get this party started!

Why are we heading to Wisconsin when it's just starting to get beautiful out here?

Because we miss these wonderful faces:

Can't wait!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Play Day @ Minto

Jack and I went to Minto-Brown Island Park (map pdf) this morning. There's a huge field reserved just for dogs to run off leash. Jack loves it.

We got a new leash and tennis balls just for today.

After chasing the ball, Jack decided to try his paw at the frisbee.

He eventually broke it into pieces, so we threw it away and used the ball.

Then we met adorable little Rosie. She was so sweet!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Cabin Fever, Part II

I tackled the patio beds today. I love the smell of fresh dirt, but the giant slugs still spook me. :) Here are the patio beds now (pictured untouched in my previous post).

Those are flowers, not weeds! :)

I can't wait to get my wildflower patches started!

Chinese Food @ Home

I've been so addicted to stir-fry lately. I feel like I can't get enough. Maybe it's the warmer weather or maybe it's just spring fever and all of the colors in the produce department at the store... Whatever it is, it has delicious results. I discovered Lee Kum Kee products and their Panda Brand sauce packets. They are ingenious and taste amazing! In our stir-fry, I generally use broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, onions, and green or red bell peppers. If I'm making it for company or a special occasion, I'll splurge for water chesnuts, bamboo shoots, and snap peas. If it's orange chicken, I throw in some pineapple chunks.

For Orange chicken, I cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and then toss it lightly in cornstarch. Then I stir-fry the chicken in some EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) and push it to the sides of the wok once it's cooked for about 2-3 minutes. Then I add the broccoli and peppers and stir-fry them for a minute or two. Then I add carrots and onions because they are thinner and take less time to cook. I push each addition to the sides after it has cooked, making a well in the middle for the next ingredients. I add pineapple last.

Once everything has cooked until it's almost al-dente, I add the sauce to the middle and stir it in until everything is coated. Then I let it simmer for about two minutes until everything is warmed through. If you start the rice right after you prep the veggies, it should be done just in time. What's your favorite stir-fry?

Church Remodel

I spent about 8 hours working at the church last week. It felt wonderful! I was so excited to show Steve how great it was starting to look on Sunday! Robert (Steve's dad & the pastor) has invested an incredible amount of love and hard work into this church, both the building and the people. We thank God for his servant's heart. He and a few other guys have laid a good portion of the tile, and it should be completely tiled by next Saturday. Amazing! I tried to avoid taking pictures of all the clutter and junk. ;)

I painted some shelves for the nursery and the nursery room door. I haven't painted anything since high school, so it was definitely a refresher course for me.

Though many of the walls had to be torn out due to water damage, I was so relieved to see that Brother Mann's paintings weren't ruined. He painted these gorgeous scenes on the nursery and classroom walls. A few years ago he had a stroke, and is unable to paint and do a lot of other things for himself now. So, the paintings hold a lot of sentimental value and are a heritage to the children of our church. I hope our kids can meet Brother Mann and that the paintings are still there for them to enjoy when they are old enough.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Sore. Strangely awake. We both slept through the alarm. Feeling great. Can't say the same for Steve. He was ready for bed at 7pm last night, but had to log on to work from home again at 9pm. He's been drinking a lot more coffee lately. Hopefully today will be a shorter work day for him.

My hands are still speckled with paint and there's still dirt under my fingernails from yesterday. It feels great to be productive. I'm heading back over to church around 10am this morning to finish painting and move some stuff around. Hoping Cathy will be there since this is her day off so I'm not the only girl and I can get some instruction as to where she wants things in the nursery and kitchen. I think she's the best mother-in-law in the world, but Steve argues that he has a pretty great mother-in-law too. Maybe I can get some pictures of the remodel to post on here. It's starting to look beautiful. Very excited.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Staying Busy

Today is Steve's third day on his new schedule of four 10-hour shifts. His attitude toward it is evolving. At 6am, he doesn't like it very much. On Monday, he loves it since that's his new day off. Another one of his least favorite parts of the day is when the clock hits 10pm and his wife starts giving him reminders that bedtime is a half hour away. Then fifteen minutes. Then two minutes. I laugh when I see him start to wriggle in his beanbag chair as he plays a video game. He reminds me of a little kid, "Just a few more minutes! I almost have the hippo!" Mind you, the 10:30pm was his choice. I'm just being his help meet. haha ;)

Today I'm going to try something new. Our church was damaged a few weeks ago when some water pipes burst, on two separate occasions. The fellowship hall had to be gutted. New ceiling, walls, flooring. It was sort of a blessing in disguise. It's great to have the opportunity to remodel and update some things, but it's a lot of hard work and there's been frustration dealing with contractors, as there always is. Today I get the opportunity to help out with the repairs. I may try my hand at tiling the floor, maybe some painting, and whatever else I'm needed for. I figure it's a great opportunity to learn some new skills to use when and if the Lord blesses Steve and I with a house.

Praise God for creating us as adaptable creatures with such an amazing ability to learn.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Good Stuff...

Food, that is. =)

For the last week I had been on a Thai food craze. I couldn't get enough. Our favorite dish of all is Pad Se Ew (wide rice noodles stir-fried with broccoli and egg).

I love adding water chestnuts and baby corn. I would add pea pods and a bunch of other veggies too, but I don't want to annoy the chefs... Right now, we pick up our Thai food at local restaurants, but I would like to spend more time testing it out at home. I've tried pad se ew at home, and it was good, but not as good as the restaurant. Do you have any favorite Thai dishes or recipes?

Last night we made meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy, sauteed mushrooms, and steamed asparagus and corn. I even had fruit cocktail for dessert, but we were both so full from the amazing dinner, we didn't bother with it. This is the meatloaf recipe I've always used from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. It turns out great every time. When sauteing mushrooms, I put a little butter in a frying pan and heat it up, I add either garlic powder or garlic cloves and salt to taste. Then I saute them until they are a dark brown. I don't like mushrooms any other way, but I can't get enough of them this way.

Sustainable Living

"When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world."
- John Muir

I remember watching a movie about John Muir with my sister Kris when I was younger. One of the things I remember most is John exclaiming with a rich scottish brogue to his abusive father's inquiry to his well-being as he dug a water well so deep he began breathing toxic fumes, "Fine! Perfect! Spleeendid!"

The other thing I remember is the love this man had for nature and preserving it. He was a huge moving force in the establishment of Yosemite National Park and was a co-founder of the Sierra Club. I really respect his views of nature and his passion for preservation, though there is a clear difference between preservation and conservation. I lean more towards conservation. Preservation says we need to protect things so they can stay the way they are, unadulterated and pure. Conservation says we need to use what is around us wisely while continually rebuilding what we tear down so we don't lose quality or quantity of our resources. I think nature needs to be respected and cared for, but I strongly believe God created it to serve people's basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing - not just as a spiritual oasis, as Muir saw it.

The important thing I want to draw from this is that God created the world with order, and everything is connected. If we want to be healthy and live rich lives, we need to care for the things around us and reinvest in the things we use. Hence my interest in sustainable living.

One great resource I've been digging into lately has been Mother Earth News ( My dad recently bought Steve and I the entire archive of the magazine articles from 1970-2009. It's amazing!

I grew up learning how to garden in the Midwest U.S. Now I live in the Pacific Northwest and so much is different. It's wetter and the winters are more mild. The growing seasons start earlier, but they aren't super long. The sun doesn't show up very often. The weather can be scorchingly dry in the summer, but the fall and the spring are sopping wet. It can be quite a challenge. The ME news archive has so many articles about gardening in the Northwest and how to enrich your soil. I can hardly wait to plant my tomato seeds! The DVD is an archive that allows you to search almost 20 years of sustainable living information. It's quite brilliant. Here's a screenshot of how it works:

It displays in your web browser. I prefer the split-view format. I can search in the white text box on the left, and it will display the search results below. When you click on one of the blue links, it opens the article on the right side. Articles contain hyperlinks that make it easy to find other helpful information on similar topics. Enough of my plugging. I think you get the idea. :)

Gardening is a great way to begin sustainable living. It's simple to do in an urban setting as well. There are other areas though, including farming, food, electricity, etc. The list goes on. I have to admit my favorite is food. My friend Kirstin just sent me a link for making your own homemade yogurt. What a great idea! Not only is the recipe great, there are also really great links on the side of the blog as well. That's how I found the link for making my own jiffy pots. Check it out when you have time:

We would love to hear your experiences and thoughts on this topic!

Cabin Fever

Cabin fever has hit our home. There's so much I want to share, I might have to make more than one post.

Yesterday I veered the shopping cart back outside the store and gave into the temptation of two primroses. My planter by the front door was looking awful, so I ripped out all the old stuff, turned up the soil and planted these two gorgeous pink primroses.

I also picked up some Early Girl tomato seeds and a Northwest mix of wildflowers.

I almost bought some jiffy pots for starting the tomato seeds, but the $8 price tag deterred me. Then I found this great video online for making your own seed-starting pots from black & white newspaper! All you need is a straight-edge glass and some newspaper. Amazing!

This is what our patio looks like now. There are some plants that are still alive, like the thyme and some flowers, but most of it needs to be refreshed and replanted with some new life.

I'm hoping to till up the beds and plant wildflowers so we can have fresh-cut flowers in the house most of the summer and also to brighten up the patio.

The chicks and hens made it through the winter just fine and are loving their space in the garden. It makes me so happy to see something thriving in MY garden! haha