Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New Year's Resolution Fulfilled

Do you like to make New Year's Resolutions?
I do.
In fact, I take them very seriously and make a checklist out of them that I refer to throughout the year to make sure I stay on top of them.
I'm happy to say that my New Year's Resolutions for 2009 were as follows and fulfilled rather early in the year:

[x] get pre-pregnancy body back
[x] raise happy and healthy baby
[x] get out of the house regularly
[x] get last name officially changed
[x] get comfortable driving the Prius
[ ] stretch every day
[ ] make something for my baby

As you can see, was missing just two things...
But today I'm proud to say I accomplished one of them!
Introducing, Ella's new legwarmers!!


I got the pattern from I Knit, That's It and am so thankful for the super easy pattern and versatility! It was also the first time I used Daddy's size 5 bamboo needles and was pleasantly surprised at how good they felt! Nice and smooth with just enough grip~
Perfect for keeping Ella warm, while also making it easier for upcoming potty training!!!
I'll definitely post the future pairs of this that I make too. ;)
'Til then!!

I love December

:: Christmas songs.
:: Baked goods.
:: Fires in the fireplaces.
:: Thinking about loved ones...

And thinking of creative ways to both celebrate the holidays but still keep my basic waste-free, environmentally conscience values.
So, say hello to our tree this year!


After Daddy's new (made in the USA!) bicycle came in from Worksman Cycles Factory, we had a big old cardboard box we didn't know what to do with.
So Daddy came up with the brilliant idea of repurposing it into this year's Christmas tree!
Standing at a whopping 1'3", our tree is made of the following elements:

:: thrifted dowel makes up the trunk

:: cardboard box gave us the tree and branches

:: scraps of yarn were turned into bows and "tinsel"

:: silver and green paints saved over the years gave us that extra color

:: chocolate kisses give us ornaments as well as a tasty treat now and then ;)


I love my husband and the holiday spirit and an environmentally gentle alternative to killing a tree or buying an artificial one. I hope this little guy lasts through the years and we can add more and more to him.

Stay warm and happy holidays to you~

Friday, November 27, 2009

Newport

Today we went to Newport with the family -- Nana, twin sis, her BF, Daddy, and Ella.

The weather was the most cooperative it had ever been while there and we got to stop by all these shops I'd never been too. Here is Ella in the candy shop with some radiant lollipop rays coming from her head. And the proud auntie in her new scarf too. :)
Ella will be 8 months on the 1st!!
Crazy, right~?


Stay warm, everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Spreading the love...

Happy day!!
My twin sister and her boyfriend came down today to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with us :)
And finally after two weeks of laboring, I finished the garter-stitch scarf I made her!
Why does it always seem to take two weeks for me to finish anything...?
Anyway, here she is wearing it proudly~


I made it out of one of those "1 Pound of Yarn" skeins and it is a very gentle and soft pink. With pink and purple tassels! Not shown here, but you can imagine it I'm sure ;)
And she was so taken by the craft that I got to sit down and teach her how to sew the basic knit stitch!! It feels so good to teach knitting to others and knit quietly together.
She is now working on a scarf for her boyfriend and doing smashingly well. Maybe she'll even get it done in less than two weeks!!
Well, that's all in the world of knitting this week.
Take care and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Newspaper Logs

The weather has gotten pretty chilly out here in the Northwest. And what with having a fireplace, there's no way we're going to spend this winter without some cozy fires to warm our feet and souls.
But instead of going out and buying chopped up wood, I figured we could repurpose all the newspapers we've been accumulating after reading!
So, behold! Newspaper logs:


The steps are pretty simple for making these...

1) Spread open newspapers and pile on top of each other

2) Roll nice and tight

3) Dip in bowl of water/run water over them (this encourages them to retain their log shape)

4) Tie with yarn

5) Let dry for at least 2 days

And there you have it!
They burn pretty well though they do create a lot of fine gray ash that you have to clean up after.


And so you have our first fire in Oregon:


Enjoy and stay warm, everybody!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Homemade Dog Treats

With Thanksgiving coming up, I wanted to do something special for Take (pronounced, TAH-keh, for those of you who are unsure). ♡
So I whipped out this book I'd gotten a couple of years ago, Doggy Treats : Homemade Treats for Happy, Healthy Dogs, and whipped up some "Chicken Biscuits". What a great way to use the leftover chicken, I figured!
The recipe, as you can see, is quite easy:
  • Chicken leftovers (all the bits of meat still stuck to the bones in those hard-to-reach places)
  • 3/4 C water
  • 1/3 C vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3 C whole wheat flour
1) Shred off the meat of the chicken from the leg, wing, etc from your leftover chicken. A good 1/2 C. outta do it.

2) In a large bowl, mix oil, egg, and flour.

3) Stir the shredded chicken meat and water into the dough.

4) Knead the dough on a floured surface until firm.

5) Roll out the dough to 1/2-inch thickness

6) Cut out shapes with cookie cutter (or, as I used, a metal 1/4-C measuring cup)


7) Place cookies on a baking sheet, 1/2 inch apart.


8) Bake at 325 degrees for 55 minutes.

9) Cookies will be firm to the touch when done. Leave them in the oven to harden after 1 or 2 hours.


Ta-da!!
I got 35 cookies out of this recipe. :)
Hope your doggies get a kick out of them, the way Take did!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bike Trailer!

Since moving to Corvallis, I've had bikes on the mind.
After all, one of Corvallis' big selling points for me was the many bike lanes you can find all over town. In fact, Bike USA listed Corvallis, 9th in the nation as a Bicycle Friendly City and Bike at Work listed Corvallis 9th in the nation as a car free community.
And with our location, we could easily hop over to the local supermarket, thrift store, or farmer's market without getting the car involved.

Then, as you all recall, our bicycles were stolen. I felt robbed of my mobility! ;_;
But with our new Africa Bike, I felt free again! ...Almost.
It's hard to get around without little Ella, so I started to look into another thing you can find all over Corvallis: bike trailers.
With these suckers, you can stick your kid (or even two!) in a secure little seat and add the groceries, clothing, or anything else you get on your errands about town!

Typical brands of these bike trailers include the Burley and Chariot, and are usually $200+, but wanting to be as non-consumery as I can be, I just kept an eye out on the local Craigslist...and after two diligent months, spotted a great deal on a used InStep Rocket!!

After waiting for the rainy weather to clear up, I finally took Ella out on her first ride, making sure she was bundled up enough for it:


Pants, mittens, hat, jacket...it was the whole kit-n-caboodle!
And then...the departure!!

video

I have to say, she loved it from the moment we strapped her in! First, I rode around the neighborhood just to get her acclimated. And once it was apparent that she comfortable and happy enough to even be singing to herself, I took her all the way to the LBCC for our mommy & me class. She fell asleep on the way, she was that comfy!!

Needless to say, I look forward to many a bike&trailer day!! ♡

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yarn Hunting!

Today one of my most favorite people, Celeste, invited me out to look at yarns around Corvallis. ♡

First, we hit up Fiber Nooks & Crannys which is a local shop with tons of rich, rich yarns. So lovely!! I've never felt Baby Alpaca before, but I gotta say it was great!
We didn't buy anything, but it was a great introductory exposure to all the glorious textures and oh, the colors!!!! Being an uber beginner, I figure I'll start with lotsa so-so yarn, and then save the high-end stuff for my more ambitious (skilled) endeavors~

So next we hit up good ol' Joann Fabrics ^_-
Celeste was right! So many deals and not-too-shabby textures and colors available!
Just look what I scored!!


That, my good people, is a pound of yarn!! And it's pink!!
And there was another one not shown in the photo that's purple!!!
As you can probably tell, the wheels that say "Christmas-present-making-time!!" are already turning in my head, and hopefully many a nice present (aka scarf) will be knitted from all those colors you see around Ella.
Wish me luck~!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Halloween!

This year was Ella's first (out-of-the-womb) Halloween!
We didn't go trick-of-treating or anything, and actually held a little shin-dig at our new place! It was the first time I've ever treated the trick-or-treaters and boy was it exciting! Though only 10 or so kids showed up...boo-hoo! ;_;
Anyway, Ella was a Yellow Pikmin (from the video game of the same title, that consumed the month of February for Dash and me last year):


Adorable, isn't it?? ^^
Her costume was custom-made by the same Holly Q who did the little bunny hat I mentioned back in September.


The costume fit her perfectly and was so comfy and warm...but the legs were actually a pinch too long so they tripped her up when she would try to crawl. Did I mention she started crawling a couple of weeks back...? ^^
My good friend, Celeste, was a doll and sewed the legs a little shorter for her! And thankfully the sewing job was simple, so we can undo it when we have her dress up in it next year too!! Bwa ha ha...

As for the shin-dig, we had over Kae and the gang, along with the funny Russians, and got to meet their good friends, Sang and Antony, as well as introduce them to Celeste and Johnny. It was all one happy meet-n-mix, me thinks~ :) I took a couple of photos, so I will probably write up another entry on it. Until then, see ya!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Daddy's Orange Scarf...

...is finally complete!
Earlier, this month, I started taking knitting classes for beginners, and after only learning the basics of casting on, doing a knit stitch, and binding off, I've completed my first project: the most simple orange scarf for my lovely hubby...


I used size US 11 needles and did nothing but a garter stitch the entire way with 100% acryllic 100g Bernat Satin yarn in the color "Sunset". :) It used up the entire skein!
As for the fringe, I got those from another skein of Sunset that I have, and just stuffed the tufts of yarn through the first and last rows, and tied a knot. All done!!

Daddy says he already loves it very much -- it's not orange because of Halloween nor because he's a fan of the OSU Beavers persay...he just looks really good in orange!!
But apparently, he's not the only one who's enjoying the scarf:



Other knitting goals for 09-10:

<> scarves for everyone I know

<> thigh-high stripey stockings for me

<> something for Ella!!

<> something for the kitchen...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Homemade Oreos~

I love chocolate, of course, but more specifically...I love Oreos.
So last month, Dash decided to try his hand at some homemade Oreos, to indulge me in my sugar-love while still sticking to my goal to create more in the home and buy less. :)
Below is the result, with step-by-step photos about the process involved.
Enjoy!!


<()> The Crumbly Cookie Patties call for:
  • 1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 C plus 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg

1) Combine all the dry ingredients (as seen above) in a large bowl.

2) Beat the egg and butter into the dry concoction, until a sticky batter forms:


There is so much butter in this recipe and pretty much all cookie recipes... @_@
But anyway, it should come out looking something like this:


I'm sure we all recognize that rich dark chocolate color that is the Oreo cookie. :)

3) Place batter onto a cookie pan (non-greased worked fine for us) and work into small Oreo-sized discs:


4) Bake at 375 for 9 minutes...


Oops! Tooooo big. @_@

3) Place batter onto a cookie pan (non-greased worked fine for us) and work into small Oreo-sized discs use only a tsp or so dollop and barely flatten...the batter will flatten out quite a bit in the oven as it bakes):


4) Bake at 375 for 9 minutes...
That's more like it :)


5) Let the cookies cool on a rack and move onto the...


<()> The Super Sweet Filling call for:
  • 1/4 cup room-temperature, unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1) Mix all above ingredients in a bowl with a vinyl spatula until a consistent paste forms.

2) Slab a dollop of the paste onto a cookie platter and either smoosh down with another cookie or smear around to cover all the space between the two cookies.


Ta-da!! Unsightly but delicious homemade Oreo cookies!

I wanna say they're "healthier" than the brand name kind, only because you actually know what you're putting into them and therefore into your body...plus by knowing how much butter goes into every cookie, it makes me not want to consume as many at one sitting like usual! Two pros right off the bat! :)
Because we made the first sheet-fulls of cookies too large, and only learned to make them smaller toward the end, we had a grand total of 20. But by more efficiently using our batter next time, we could easily make 40 I'm sure :)
And the only process only took about one hour, with the beating and cooling and whatnot...

Good luck on your own endeavors for making these cookies and enjoy~!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

First Book?

People are always saying you should read to your children.
And I ask..."At 6.5 months of age~?"
Because in my experience, it is quite hard to sit Ella down for some reading.
She's either:
a) too amped up to pay attention
b) more interested in chewing on the book
c) asleep

But! As of late, she's grown quite fond of The Hungry Little Caterpillar, and even "listens" as I read it to her. Could it be? She's...starting to pay attention to books?? We'll have to see where it goes, but for now I love how she embodies the main character herself in that shot ;)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sushi Party!!!!

Just wanted to let you know, this past weekend, our fabulous friends, Kae & Seishiro Hokazono, put on the most incredible sushi dinner!! Along with our boarder, Nori, the ever-entertaining couple from Russia, Artures & Nastia, and two children under two, I'd say it was a night to remember!
There was good music, amusing stories told, and the most amazing temakizushi 手巻き寿司 (hand-rolled sushi) to be had!

Just look at that spread!


There had to be at least 15 different ingredients with which to grace our seaweed and rice foundations. I always prided myself on how I averaged at about 14 plates at your typical 回転寿し (rotating sushi) joint, but that night...I don't even know how many sushi I wrapped up and stuffed myself with! Below are some photo highlights of some faves:

This bowl contained a mixture primarily consisting of the meat nearest the spine of the fish (血合い I believe it's called~?). Anyway, it was delicious!! And the texture was just perfect for adding to the sticky rice and flaky seaweed sheet.


And what's sushi without salmon and crab?? Look at that dish! Gorgeous!!


Some boiled squid. Mm-MM! Caught by Artures, the fisherman, too! What an amazing skill, it impresses me to know end -- knowing the ins and outs of sealife like that~

Last but not least...egg! But not just any egg. It's the wonderfully sweetened and oh-so-fluffy egg that works wonders in the mouth when accompanied by some slightly salty sticky rice + seaweed wrap. Mm-MM. One of my personal faves. Plus since it tends to be on the cheapest plates at 回転寿し bwa ha ha...

Kae is an incredible chef. Can you believe she prepared all this herself?? And she's so dedicated to good work and taste that she started working on it all the night before! Such vigor and ability to balance all the different tastes -- especially when dealing with ingredients that will be raw!
Truly, a feat. m(_ _)m

Thursday, October 8, 2009

On Our Daily Walk

Just thought I'd share with you some shots from our daily evening stroll around Corvallis (such is the benefit to having a dog...mandatory walks!)




Also, I don't think I mentioned this in my last blog, but just the day after Ella's 1/2 Birthday...our bicycles got stolen out of our garage ;_; How cruel, right? And how ironic! After three+ years of surviving the dangerous streets of LA...they can't even last a month in "one of the safest towns in the USA" Corvallis. Le sigh...
But! Thankfully insurance came through and now we have a Kona Africabike to share!
They are very durable, rugged, overall utilitarian, and for every two bikes sold, one is donated to a town in Africa. Not bad, eh?
So yeah, I can't wait to use this thing to get to the store for a quick errand, or Wednesday Knitting Class! More on that in a future blog ;)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Happy Half-Birthday, Ella!

That's right, we celebrated something I never thought had any point.
Ella's 6-month birthday!


It really was because Nori (our new longterm guest) said he really likes chocolate and I wanted to bake a cake!


Would you believe this cake is all "vegan"? Here's the recipe as proof:

Dairy-Free (Vegan) Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose-flour
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp unsweetened nonalkalized cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

1 c. cold water
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla

Sift together into a large bowl the first 5 ingredients listed above.
Combine the last 4 ingredients and then add to that big bowl concoction.
Stir until smooth.
Scrape/pour batter into a greased and floured 8"x8" pan and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (or until you can poke it with a toothpick and it comes out clean).
Let the cake cool on the rack for 10 minutes before detaching the edges with a blunt knife and invert to remove completely from pan.
Dust with powdered sugar, and enjoy a la mode!

Isn't that nuts? No butter. No milk. No eggs!
It's a first for me, that's for sure~

Well, Happy Birthday once again, Ella.
We love you!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Corvallis Fall Festival

This weekend my family and I had the pleasure of attending our first Corvallis Fall Festival!
We met up with the most wonderful people we've met here, Seishirou, Kae, and their adorable son, Douzen. Douzen is 15 months old, and I hope he and Ella can be good friends eventually!
As with any craft fair, there was so much inspiration everywhere! Daddy found me the wide-brimmed hat Mama had been coveting while Ella got many a compliment for her bunny hat (thanks to Holly Q for making such a special gift!!):


As you can see in the background, someone was selling mirrors framed with stained glass -- that just happens to be a project I've been meaning to get to! Thanks to some free mirrors we scored at a garage sale last month, I have all the supplies I need present and in the garage. Now to schedule in an afternoon to get it started~

Friday, September 25, 2009

Let's start at the very end...

A very good place to start.
It's Friday and after about a week of musing, I've finally started my blog!
Here, I aim to share my (mis?)adventures in mothering my firstborn in tune with my sustainable/conservationist and overall green beliefs.I'll share recipes for meals I challenge myself to cook and bake, and solutions to everyday chores through green alternatives.
And most importantly, childrearing!
But whatever I post about, I'm sure Ella Rose will be the main event, so I think it's only right to give her a debut in a most fitting hat:


It was a lot harder to photograph her than I thought, so pardon the blurriness. The hem reads "organically growing" I'll work on my photographing skills ;)