post 966…no joke.

It’s a real chore to take my camera out these days. Camera depressed?

Four awesome kids.

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Lotus makes all the moms in the park nervous when she goes on this big slide.

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A friend shared an article about how nasty the new hot dog stuffed pizza crust trend is, so of course I had to try it out. Okay, pizza and a wiener wrap in one sitting *is* a little ridiculous. Plus, I was left wondering if I should have put some mustard on my plate. It was fun to try anyway.

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Our bread machine broke after many years of use. Actually it vibrated itself off the counter while kneading and the lid busted. BUT, it has been the best thing! I finally tried making bread myself and it is so much better. Bigger loaves, four at a time that last all week.

Here’s my last batch puffing up in its warm bath.

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Yummy!

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I *heart* wood stoves

One super high (electric) heating bill lead to a super cold month and a 1/3 reduced bill,

which lead to a new wood stove, a super toasty warm month and a 2/3 reduced electric bill. We love our new wood stove!!!! It heats the entire 1200sf of our main living space and bedrooms. The smell is wonderful and having a fire to look at is cozy too.

Jason seems to really enjoy tending the fire, the look of pride when he gets it roaring is priceless:)

Notice the sweet hearth he tiled for the floor.

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The kids help stack the wood. We haven’t been very good gardeners so this has been a good activity to get us outside, working together.

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Jason built us a small firewood rack for the deck. I love how great it looks from just a few scraps of supplies gathered in the garage. My guy does good work!

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New friends from Japan

We had a wonderful, albeit much too short, CouchSurfing experience with two Japanese guests from Yonezawa, Yamagata, Japan. Mari and her seven year old son Hikaru.

Hikaru doesn’t know any English but the boys all bonded immediately over the universal language that is Mario Kart.

Hikaru showing Xander his school work. It’s interesting to see what any student my kids age is working on, let alone another culture, since my kids homeschool. Xander and I were both pleased to see familiar levels of math. Whew! I’m keeping up! Too bad we couldn’t read the text:)

I do believe a few more months of play and the boys might actually start learning each others language quickly. Xander was already figuring out Google Translator and Hikaru said he wants to start learning English and come back for another visit.

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We love taking our guests to the beach. The boys played with sand toys and took turns flying the kite. Poor Isaac was left sick at home, missing all the fun.

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Camera timer fail…

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Just before we said goodbye. Cheese!

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Simon is five

My little Simon had his fifth birthday. The first birthday he was really excited for:)

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Lotus and Simon painting. This was Lotus’ first time!

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“Keep your brush to your own paper” is an agreement Lotus is not ready to make.

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Ta-da!

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Clean foods

Cleaning up our family’s food has been a work in progress over *years*. Here’s my start back in 2009 when I eliminated processed foods, for the most part. I cooked a lot at home and made things from scratch. Our freezer has been full of grass-fed local beef, BUT….

…we still ate food saturated with pesticides, hormones, etc. through our produce and dairy.

I looked into organics and raw milk again recently and resources are so much better now! Milk I used to have to drive across town for is now just up the road and organic produce is delivered to my door.

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The boxes are a weekly treat for play too…

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I’m having to reverse my usual menu planning style from planning and buying to buying and then planning, which is tough! The difference is amazing though because we are trying new things and eating wonderful foods.

Last week the kids devoured the oranges and bananas but didn’t want to touch the apples and pears so I had to get creative and turn them into something they would eat. The share of apples turned into pies and the pears turned into cake; problem solved and I increased the shelf life.

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Yesterday, I had the collard greens to use up before the new produce came so we made this recipe: Baked Rigatoni with Ricotta and Collard greens. We subbed in elbow macaroni for the pasta and cottage cheese for the ricotta and it was delicious! A very kid friendly dish.

A new sweater for Lotus

This Cascade 128 superwash wool is so soft and cozy!

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Lotus had outgrown all her baby knits and the house is cold so I whipped out a thick sweater. This pattern knits up quickly and the 2-4 size looks like it truly will fit her 1-4 years. Perfect!

I got a sweet smile out of Lotus but she has a terrible cold and feels miserable right now. 🙁

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Market bags

When I finally took my two knitted market bags to the grocery store I found out just how fantastic they are! They hold so much and feel sturdy.

I figured six bags is a good number to hold all of our groceries and have been knitting away on them over the last several weeks. Number six came off the needles last night. Here they all are!

I used the “girlfriend market bag” pattern with modifications listed here. The most important part being the two smaller handles. They are stronger and don’t stretch down when the bag is loaded with heavy items.

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When not in use, they all squish neatly into one bags and get left in the car, ready for the next shopping trip. I find bagging the groceries to be quicker and unloading the bags into the house easier with these bags. They just rock!

Now don’t ask me to make them for you because my hands are not happy with all the rough cotton knitting. I hope they last a long time!

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what’s up

Paper on the table makes lunch time fun…

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Simon uses his own hand for reference before drawing a circle with five lines. hehe! He’s so damn adorable! He does a pretty decent job writing his name too.

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Xander draws some sweet zombies calling out for “brains!”

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Isaac and I are reading two of the Little House books. Yay! He’s starting Farmer Boy and I’m starting Little House in the Big Woods. We’ll swap books if he ends up liking it.

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Xander is braving his first chapter book. At least, I think it’s his first. He reads picture books, comics, online, etc very well but has been intimidated by the chapter book. I hope “Stink” helps him over the hump.

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selamat petang (good evening)

We have a lovely couchsurfing family from Canada this weekend. Actually they are from Malaysia and recently moved to Canada. Couchsurfing has been such a fun experience for us, giving us the opportunity to meet people from all over the world.

I finally snapped a pic of our “couch.” I wish we had another room for bigger families.

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Lotus is having fun playing with her cousin, Icen, today. She’s seven weeks older and a full head taller…he’s a cute little peanut, isn’t he? Jason is “reading” to them. Way to put the smallest amount of energy possible into it, Babe! hahaha!

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Luke’s birthday today!

Our dog friend, Luke, is 12 today!

He’s older and a little crotchety at times but he’s still our little buddy. Jason and I chose him together before we married and he’s been by our side ever since.

It cracks me up remembering how we used to “share custody.” Jason and I didn’t live together (and lived about a 2.5 hour drive apart) until we married, several months later, so we would take week long turns with our baby. I’m pretty sure speaker-phone-babytalk was involved;)

He’s not sure about the new sweater…or me asking him to sit for a picture. “Sit? what does that mean?”

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Also, our two week spending freeze is over and it was TOUGH! We did end up grocery shopping a little after the first week (which was really two weeks post-grocery shopping). Who knew I could really use up all the we-don’t-have-any-food food. I whittled down to just the dry goods and continued to cook. I used all the flour, all the rice, all the oats, all the pasta, all the split peas and nearly all the beans.

We did good though and continue to make progress toward our 2012 goals. Yea!