Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The salmon run meets the river close to our house every year in late September till early October. Tumwater Falls park houses about 1500 Chinook Salmon each year... they take the eggs around the first of October and send them to the rivers that need Salmon repopluated.
This year we missed the biggest part of the run, but we did get to see a bunch of Salmon swimming around their tank, and we got to watch the few that were left jumping up the Salmon stairs make their way to where they lay eggs and pass on for the next generation to take over.
It takes them three to five years go to the sea and back again. I didn't realise it was that long... Ones that come back before they are mature are called Jacks. There are a few every year, but most come back when they are ready, like clock work... 3-5 years after they started their lives there.
Pretty neat if you ask me.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Today I saw something that brought out the best in me.
I was at a stop light. Next to the side of the road, as there usually is, stood a dirty man, in his 50's, with a cardboard sign that read "Veteran - food - need a job - God bless."
He walked up to the man holding the sign... and asked him for a hug.
The man holding the sign melted into his arms. The man in the red jacket just smiled and held him. By the time the light changed and I drove away the homeless man was crushing his sign with the force of hugging his other man, and obviously crying.
I got tears in my eyes. Tears of joy for the kindness I had just witness and tears of frustration for the judgement I nearly cast upon this man for deceit that others had shown me.
It is rare that you see such life changing moments and know what they are. Moments that you can feel them wash over you like the ocean. But today, I had one of those moments. I doubt I will ever see the homeless on the side of the road the same.
I was there to witness that.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
And for a snack... cantalope and grapes with a festive pumpkin pick.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Cyan and I and our homeschool group went to the pumpking patch, (I am sure I will share pictures of when I get them). The pumpkin she ended up picking is so perfect it's almost unnatural. Perfectly round, perfectly orange, ready for carving this next weekend for Halloween. Isn't that color amazing?
Autumn is so stunning!
Nasturtium leaves with some of the 9 inches of rain we have gotten already this month.
My favorite garden plant, Lemon Verbena. These beautiful little purple flowers are a bonus to the wonderful lemon drop smell they give every time you touch them. They stay until the first frost or so... I try to plan it so I bring them in made into bouquets just before the frost.
My new garden boots and the starts that have planted themselves in my pathway. Crazy me, I am kindof enjoying the messy new start feel of the path.
Cyan raking leaves while Logan watches on, because it is finally dry enough to jump in them! YAY!
Friday, October 19, 2007
Perfect after school snack!
And here is Cyan's lunch:
There are usually more fruits and veggies, but it is shopping day. lol... so we will have more healthy stuff tomorrow. As it is, we have a WW butterfly, moon, flower and star with crunchy peanut butter and pretzel sticks with a tiny container of dip. We are looking for new fruits to try for next week. It is great for the kids to be so into food... healthy food at that.
At first I was worried about waste. But between the chickens, worms, and the baby all eating the table scraps, well we haven't had an issue with that at all yet. Just a whole lot of fun!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
From a distance this garden looks fine. Up close, things are dying and it is painfully obvious. The tomatoes that ripen are split by the next days rains. The beans are hanging on their tee pee with the sad look of yellow leaves. The pathway has a million little starts in it from the more active seeders. The rock boarder is sadly overgrown with grass that is constantly too wet to mow. Always wet, always yellowing and old... the late fall garden can't really be weeded due to the constant damp of the air, and of course, the simi-constant pelting rain. But from a distance...
Monday, October 15, 2007
Every single year my Dahlias stay out until the first frost, my flower heads like this time of year best and stay beautiful and full for many more days than they last in the heat of summer. This year, I got mostly pink ones. I am not sure what happened underground but my white one hasn't shown many blooms at all this year. One or two, like albino chicks in a flock of black chickens. lol... But the pink ones are just beautiful!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The black oak is turning. Cyan calls it a "rainbow oak" becuase it has every shade of green, yellow, brown, and red decorating it's beautiful leaves. The leaves fall, and the kids rake them up to play in the pile. What a beautiful time Autumn is! Last night, sitting outside, bundled against this near freezing evening, watching the stars from under that beautiful tree with my husband while he enjoys one of his only vices... well, it was beautiful.
Just as he came out from checking on the baby, an owl flew overhead. It's white body was visable even in the moonless night. It flew above us, startling me with its call, searching for the meal that brought it from it's warm nest on this cold evening. Above it was a star lit sky. There were no clouds this night. We saw constilations, and a star that pulsed red and white, a morse becon in the dark.
Both of us are just amazed at what this life has brought us. We have been together for 9 years and we have never been as secure or content as we are now. Finally instead of working for something we can't see, we are working for what we love, right here, right now. Finally, instead of digging ourselves in, we are digging out. We were both taken by the amazing reality that this is the life we have been waiting for. We are in it. Here, now. Don was nearly moved to tears.
For the last 5 years I have had a matra on my bathroom mirror. It says "I have faith in a future I can not see." For a long time that seemed true... we couldn't see the end of this journey. Now, all of a sudden we are here, now.
I even went to the store to get some chips just so we could eat more of this lovely garden tomato salsa. lol!
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
The tallest lighthouse in Washington state.Looking up from the inside.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007; Page HE05
Several members of Congress recently made news when they tried to see if they could subsist on $21 per week -- the average amount that food stamp recipients receive to supplement their income.
Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), co-sponsors of legislation to add $4 billion to the $33 billion food stamp program, challenged their colleagues to join them in trying to eat for just $1 per meal.
McGovern struggled: "No organic foods, no fresh vegetables; we were looking for the cheapest of everything," he told The Washington Post as a food stamp recipient helped him shop. "We got spaghetti and hamburger meat that was high in fat -- the fattiest meat on the shelf. I have high cholesterol and always try to get the leanest, but it's expensive. It's almost impossible to make healthy choices on a food-stamp diet."
No question: That's a tight budget. But with a few cooking skills and a little basic nutrition knowledge, it's doable.
Food stamp benefits, which go to 26 million low-income Americans annually, are given out monthly, not weekly, allowing recipients to buy in bulk. That average $21 per person per week becomes about $90 for the full month. A family of four can receive a maximum of $518 per month -- or about $120 per week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
When even "value meals" at fast-food restaurants cost several bucks, how much can such a slim food budget buy?
Plenty, according to Tom Wolfe, owner of a natural foods store in Takoma Park. In a recent op-ed piece for The Post, Wolfe noted that most of the people he meets on his travels in the developing world eat a simple diet of grains, beans and vegetables.
Inspired by their example, he began to spend just $25 a week for food. "I have been able, through careful planning, to feed myself well -- with enough left over to prepare lunch four days a week for the five people on the staff of my store," he wrote. "Virtually my entire diet since April has been grains and beans certified-organic and a mix of organic and cheaper non-organic vegetables."
Okay, but cooking from scratch is tough if you're pressed for time. These days, people of all income groups are cooking less and dining out more.
Rick Hindle, executive chef for the Skadden, Arps law firm in Washington, showed recently that you don't have to spend hours in the kitchen to prepare healthful food for $1 or less per meal -- although you do need some basic culinary skills. As part of the launch of a new USDA Web site for food stamp recipients, Hindle cooked colorful quesadillas (60 cents per serving), spinach and meat cakes with brown rice (92 cents) and orange banana frosty (52 cents). All 400 recipes in the database adhere to the latest U.S. Dietary Guidelines. The recipes are available in English and Spanish.
"They were easy to make, with only three to four ingredients," Hindle said. "They're good for you, and they tasted great." So great, in fact, that Hindle, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America, plans to add the quesadillas and some of the other recipes to his regular repertoire. (Find photos, recipes and links to menus at http://www.leanplateclub.com.)
Of course, many food stamp recipients live in neighborhoods with limited grocery stores and often don't have access to a car. A few may find help from the growing number of online grocery delivery services, such as Peapod.com. Delivery costs about $7 to $10 per order. But the services often aren't available in poorer neighborhoods.
So to see how far the food stamp benefits stretched, I headed to a local Giant grocery store in Washington, adjacent to public transportation. My budget: $120, the maximum weekly benefit for a family of four on food stamps. (See how much that buys at http://www.leanplateclub.com.)
I spent about an hour and a half shopping for bargains and used a discount card (available free at the store) to save more. Here's a sampling of what I found:
Dried beans. With the discount card, beans cost as little as 55 cents per pound. That makes 16 servings at 4 cents each to put into tacos, bean dip, soups, chili, salads and more. Downside: Cooking dried beans takes time. But a batch can be frozen.
Canned salmon. Just 14 cents per ounce, compared with $7.99 and up (about 50 cents an ounce) for fresh. Great for salmon patties or salmon loaf.
Fruit. A big challenge until I found a large watermelon for $5.99. It could provide about 12 servings.
Eggs and tofu. At $1.89 per dozen, eggs are a low-cost protein source. So is tofu, at $2.99 per container. Both stretched farther than any meat I could find.
Whole grains. It took time, but I found a whole-grain loaf with extra fiber for $2.39. I bought two loaves, for sandwiches, toast and French toast.
Salad dressing. Bottled was too expensive. I stretched my dollars with the discount card to buy a store-brand olive oil ($7.59) -- it can also be used for cooking -- and apple cider vinegar to make a vinaigrette. Tip from Hindle: Turn it into mock-balsamic dressing by adding a tablespoon of sugar, honey or molasses to a cup of vinegar.
Vegetables. Ten bags of frozen veggies for $10 beat both fresh and canned and are nutritionally the same.
In short, eating on a food stamp budget was challenging, but not as difficult as some members of Congress might think.
There are many debatable points here. But over all I believe that she is sending a great message. You CAN eat well on a seriously low budget. I do it every month. I only allow $150 per pay peroid (two weeks) for my family of 5 (three of which eat like grown ups). We eat mostly organic, a lot of local foods, and we eat really well. We hardly ever make frozen or canned vegetables, prefering the fresh. I can my own fruits which cut the cost of those foods in the winter time in half at least. It takes effort. It takes planning, but it absolutly can be done. Even when you are crunched for time, or money. What is amazing to me is how many people think it is impossible, and that attitude goes from dispare to giving up in a matter of week of trying... or a matter of one menu screw up... and then go back to eating top ramen because they only have $100 a week for a grocery budget. It takes TIME... It also takes some room. To eat whole grains, and fresh vegetables may sound great, but when we were on food stamps this is the pantry I had. I went grocery shopping in two trips per month. One at the begining (which was about $200) and the second (about $40) for fresh fruits and veggies two weeks later.
Friday, October 05, 2007
We work in cash envelopes. We have for months... which really helps keep us on track. Using debit and credit cards, it is SO easy to over spend. So now I have broken down the budget even more and separated it into categories... those categories have a set amount. When that amount is gone, it's gone. Period. That should help even more. I will adjust folders and amounts as I go, but for now, I feel like this is right.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
If you're a bear, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.
Anne becomes a woman in this book. While she is at college living in the Patty's Place house with her girlfriends she starts dating men, has tiffs with girlfriends, and has school ups and downs. It is a great book to read for just a good laugh, a good cry, a good friendship and love book.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
The trees are starting to turn. Just in the last three days we have started to get that heavy chill in the air. The summer never got hot this year, so we have had blankets on the bed the whole summer, but just this week we have needed the down comforters and just this morning I turned the heat on for the first time this season. The time for short sleeves and sleeping under a summer quilt are done.
Monday, October 01, 2007
You can see the difference here in the bowl... the top three are ours and the bottom three are store bought eggs.
And here is our yummy French Toast as it was cooking.