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February 2008
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April 2008

And other ways Oregon has changed me

I'm on a mission to find real vanilla beans so I can make my own vanilla to cook with. While waiting for the natural foods store to open last weekend, I took a stroll around Goodwill. I found a vintage Superman lunch box to store seasoning packets in and sunglasses to replace the super cool pair that broke in the car accident.

I wanted to wear them right away so I struggled to take the tag off for a moment before turning to the guy behind me in line. For the purpose of this story it does not matter what he looked like as this is Oregon.

"Excuse me, can I borrow your pocket knife for a second?"

"Hey, do I look like the kind of guy who carries a knife around?" He chuckles while pulling one out of his pocket.

"Well, this is Oregon so I figured my odds were good. Also, mine is in my diaper bag in the truck."

He wipes the blade on his (dirty) jeans and explains the dried blood is from a recent hunting trip.

Dude. I don't care if you killed someone with it, I just want to wear the glasses. There is a time I would not have been so much okay with the dirty, bloody knife but hey, there was also a time I wouldn't believe I would pack a pocket knife around. In my diaper bag no less.

p.s. still no luck on the beans.

What would you clip?

I'm putting finishing touches on my Nathalie's Notes: Mom about town; Adventures with Baby Chi Chi column pitch and I'm just wondering if you can help me answer this:

What (if anything) is missing in your local paper that would be helpful to you in terms of identifying with your community and using it (the paper) as a helpful resource? What would make you take scissors to the paper and clip something for your fridge, purse or to mail to a friend?

For me, I enjoy reading the op-ed pieces and letters to connect with what other people around town are thinking/feeling. I also just like reading the local personality feature stories and the Greens & Beans column to get new ideas.

Call for help

"He beat the shit out of her, but you know she probably had it coming."

Someone I love recently said this to me in a casual conversation. Instead of politely waiting for her to finish the sentence I interjected that, in fact, NO ONE has that coming. I suspect she rolled her eyes on the other end of the line and thought "Oh, great. Here we go again."

Yep. Here we go again. And frankly, sorry it's been so long. There is work to be done and I am able-bodied, loud-mouthed and willing.

A few years ago, when we lived at the Coast, I volunteered at the Women's Crisis Center serving on the board and working the hot line. It was one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life.

Despite the positive aspects, I didn't have the tools to deal with how emotionally exhausting it was and I used that as an excuse not to continue the work when I moved back to the Valley. But I miss it. I would occasionally see requests for help in the paper and think about going back but end up convincing myself I wasn't ready yet.

But the Universe disagrees and continues to whisper in my ear reasons I need to get back to it. There is work to be done. And I am ready to roll up my sleeves.

The Henderson House in McMinnville has a call out for volunteers. Training begins in April. Baby Chi Chi and I are signed up to attend. Who is with us?

Couscous with Apricots & Pistachios

It was awhile before we realized it became a regular thing, but Sunday night dinners with our friend/neighbors George & Amy (and Ella Kate) is something we've grown attached to. Sometimes it's leftovers on paper plates, other nights its sharing a family recipe and still others it's a chance to try a new recipe on generous guinea pigs. Whatever the food, the company is always just right.
Tonight Matt BBQ'd steaks and asparagus and I made a new recipe out of Natural Health Magazine. Here it is, with my notes.
serves 6


1 cup raw, unsalted pistachio meats, chopped {I got salted on accident, Matt helped me shuck them - do you shuck pistachios? I don't know. But he was irritated with the recipe when he realized I needed a whole cup of them. He was more irritated when he smelled something burning and I admitted it was the pistachios. Salved them. All was well, though cooking with Baby Chi Chi is distracting}
2 cups whole wheat couscous {I couldn't find whole wheat and used regular}
½ cup dried apricots, chopped {sticky business; use scissors}
2½ cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt {skipped this because the nuts were salted. Shouldn't have}
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice {To get the juice out easier, roll the lemon on the counter applying a bit of pressure, poke a couple little holes in it and pop in the microwave for a few seconds - juice comes out easy squeezie.}
¼ cup chopped parsley {forgot this and ignored it completely, may have helped with the flavoring}


  1. Toast pistachios over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes; set aside in a small bowl. {I didn't chop them until after I toasted them. I think it would've been more flavorful done the other way, you know, the way the directions say.}

  2. In the same pan, toast couscous until it just begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes; place in large bowl. Add apricots to bowl.

  3. Combine water, olive oil, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil.

  4. Pour water mixture into bowl with couscous and apricots. Cover securely with a plate and let sit for 5 minutes. {So I have a reading-recipes-ahead-of-time issue and didn't use a bowl that has a cover and found a cookie sheet worked fine.}

  5. Fluff couscous with a large fork. Gently mix in reserved pistachios, lemon juice, and parsley. Serve warm or cold.

Nutrition Facts: {So this is all out the window since I improvised the ingredient list, but I still think it was reasonably healthy. The calorie count is higher than I would've guessed.}

Per serving: 326 calories, 15 g fat (2 g saturated), 43 g carbohydrates, 10 g protein, 8 g fiber, 390 mg sodium (17% Daily Value).

Lovin' my laptop

Laptop_3 Img_0754Img_0753   Img_0752

The bad news was that my computer broke. Behold the hidden blessing! Matt brought home this laptop Friday afternoon and I've never had so much fun with the flu. Sam is also a fan. We're waiting on the software but I'm about to be back in business, baby!

Baby Chi Chi spikes a fever

It turns out there is something worse than wishing you would just die from the flu already. And that is praying that your little baby doesn't. What I hated more than seeing the thermometer sticking out of his bum was watching the numbers keep getting higher until finally stopping at 102.6. Even though I knew babies can run high temps it still worried me. I went to give him Tylenol for the fever and to ease his obvious discomfort and found these instructions: call your doctor. I found the email I got from the doc's office regarding fevers and was thrilled to read this under dosing instructions: call your doctor. So I did. Repeatedly. Every other kid in Yamhill County must be sick today. I finally got the triage nurse (who is awesome) and she said to get him in right away since his fever spiked after he's been wheezing and coughing for a couple days.

He has the flu, poor little guy and what we're trying to avoid at this point is pneumonia. His lungs have something in there but he's getting enough oxygen and I left with instructions to watch him carefully to make sure his breathing doesn't get more labored and that his other symptoms don't get worse. And also that he "doesn't turn blue." Oh. My. God.

Where's the mommy?

I'm surrounded by chaos and craving a few hours of sleep in a row. My how my standards have been lowered! Last night as I wandered around the house in a congested fog picking up this, folding that, starting laundry, finishing unloading the dishwasher, etc. I thought to myself: "What this house needs is a Mommy." Then it occured to me that I am the mommy. Oh.

The flu bug has wormed its way into our house. It is awesome. I mustered up the energy to go into town for some fruits and veggies to juice. That was hours ago and the bags are still sitting on the counter. Meanwhile I called the triage nurse at Sam's doctor's office trying to immitate the funny little "wheezing" noise he's been making. If I wasn't so concerned it would've been comical. "Does it sound more like this [insert funny noise here] or this [insert just slightly different funny noise here]? Because if it's [funny noise] you should take him to the emergency room."

"Uhhhhm. Well, it's more like [insert my own imitation of Sam]."

My suspicion is that he has figured out a new way to make a sound and he's having fun with it. I think that because every time he does it he laughs out loud and grins at me. I will keep the monitor turned all the way up tonight, just in case.

Hellllooooo Solid Foods

It was Super Tuesday at the Hardy House as Sam officially joined the ranks of solid food eaters. He loooooooved it. He's been ready to eat for awhile now but the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending waiting until babies are 6 months old before starting them on solids. So even though I thought he was ready at 4 months, I followed Doc's suggestion and waited as long as I could before finally giving in to what I felt in my gut was the right time.

I wish so badly I could post the pictures from today's little adventure. We were both covered in his cereal which is basically just slightly stickier than Elmer's Paste. I loved watching his face beam as he discovered this fabulous thing called FOOD. He's been ready, man. Why do I say that?

  • Well there was the Hot Dog incident at IKEA. While on an outing with Maciejewskis, Sam decided he was ready to eat. I had him in the Bjorn and was holding a cafeteria tray out in front of me with two hot dogs on it. Sam reached out and grabbed himself a little chunk of bun. I got a little freaked and asked Mel to help me get it away from him before he stuck it in his mouth. She had to pry his sticky little fingers open before revealing the smooshed piece of coveted bread.
  • Then there was the night we tested to see if he was ready by giving him a spoon to play with while we had dinner. He popped that baby in his mouth like a pro and then looked at us as if to say we were forgetting something. Like the FOOD that's supposed to be on the spoon.
  • Last week while I was out to lunch with YaYa he batted at my food and flicked my food across the table as if to say, "Hey! None for me, none for you."
  • And finally, as Amy says, it's just getting to be where we feel guilty eating in front of him.

Tonight he ate the whole bowl of cereal (Earth's Best Whole Grain Rice) and then started trying to eat the bowl. I love being his mom. One of my favorite things about Sam is how well he takes to new experiences.


I know plenty of writers did the job without a computer. Hell, without electricity even. But still. I am dying over here without the use of my computer.

I was interviewed last week for an article in The Oregonian about my Ecometro column and living green during leaner economic times - which, to be clear, is not a recession according to our President, but more of a "slow down."

I am drafting an essay about the experience of having the microphone pointed in the other direction. I much prefer being the one running the interview, and not just because of my control-freak nature. Every day this week I've pushed the stroller to the newsstand to buy a copy of the paper and searched for the article praying I don't sound like a complete idiot. Since I didn't record our conversation, I have to trust that the reporter got it right. I hope when I read the article that I'm not one of those people who when faced with my words in print decides I don't like what I said and calls it being misquoted. Thems fightin' words to a reporter.

It's easy to forget, or not consider, what it feels like to be interviewed. I'm sure it's a little different when you're familiar with the process, but even then you have no idea how it's all going to come out in print. You have no way to know what part of the half hour conversation is going to strike a chord with the writer and show up in the paper.

In an industry where "sources" are valued perhaps more than the people behind the quotes, it is good to be reminded of the human faces behind the stories by having mine reflected back in the mirror.

Missing Milestones

Sam had a few firsts today - his first ride in his new car seat which is a semi-permanent fixture in the truck instead of lugging him in and out. He looks tiny in it since it's supposed to last until he's six.

At breakfast, sans carseat, we took turns holding him until Matt mentioned he was getting close to ready for a high chair. I decided we might as well try it right then. It took both of us, a waitress and an experienced parent from the next table to help us figure it out but he sat there happily for the rest of the meal. Either he's a titch too small for it or he was perfecting his Gangsta Lean.

Later, Matt informed me that while I'm noting his first high chair adventure in my planner I should also note that Sam rolled over from his front to his back. Faithful readers will observe, once again, he waited until I was gone to reach this milestone.