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February 2010
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April 2010

In other news

A few random updates from here ... I think the stress of all this house-hunting with a newborn and a toddler has officially gotten to me. I'm the kind of sick where my eyes, teeth and hair even hurt. Incidentally - when does a newborn become an infant? Probably right around now, especially when said newborn weighs in at nearly 15 pounds and is in the 92nd percentile for weight. The doctor called him "well-fed" so many times I finally had to clarify: "So, Dr. K, is that a euphemism for fat?" He assured me it wasn't. "He's just well-fed." And huge. Also, awesome.

What else ... oh, yeah. The inspection on our cute, clean Farmhouse came back with a few "issues." We will spend the rest of the day figuring out if those are deal-breakers. I was back on RLMS late last night, so you know ... that's terrific.

As Matt and I were trying to weigh our options over dinner, Sam excused himself to play. He kept just barely missing the sharp edge of the table but I always cupped my hand over the corner to protect him if he did hit it. The kid never even knew how many times he came close to getting hurt.

I couldn't help but wonder if this isn't God's way of cupping his hand over the sharp edge, protecting us from getting hurt ... I don't know. I really just don't know.

I mostly just want to curl up in bed with some Theraflu and rest but instead I will play cars, Legos, Playdoh, balls, tools and color ... all before 11 a.m. because the weather report says:

"Showers early becoming less numerous later."

Sam, by the way is the cutest little kid and has started requesting "mo' classical music" at bed time. Also, he likes to have his feet "high-fived."

Meatless Monday: Asparagus Soup

My best friend from the crib mentioned the other day that I haven't been posting recipes. Yeah, about that. Another loving person in my life suggested that perhaps posting these recipes and my notes alongside them were boring to readers and that really, nobody cared. Which kind of bummed me out because I enjoyed sharing and writing about the things I'm doing these days ... I rather consider my life my muse, playground and office and it seems I spend a lot of time in the kitchen these days ... not quite what I expected for myself, but the shocker is actually how much I enjoy it. Sometimes. Plus, all these notes are drafts for my kitchen memoir, Not like the Picture.

This one's for you Mel ... 

The same day I discovered this delicious, easy to make, asparagus soup, my friend Emily's "On a Shoestring" column ran in our local paper.

Source: Google search of "asparagus soup" lead to One of the things I love about that site is the way you can enter how many people you're serving and the math gets done for you.

This posted recipe serves four but I don't know why you wouldn't just double it and freeze leftovers.

For four servings you'll need:

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus (coming into season right about now)
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion (Tip: while your eyes are already watering, chop extra for the week)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (whole wheat flour works great)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup soy milk (I was out but used almond milk which is on mega-sale at Grocery Outlet)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (you don't need this if you don't have it) 
    1. Place asparagus and onion in a saucepan with 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until the vegetables are tender.
    2. Reserve a few asparagus tips for garnish. Place remaining vegetable mixture in an electric blender and puree until smooth.
    3. Melt butter in the pan that was used for simmering the asparagus and onions. Stir while sprinkling flour, salt, and pepper into the butter. Do not let the flour brown. Allow the mixture to cook only 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth and increase the heat. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.
    4. Stir the vegetable puree and milk into the saucepan. Whisk yogurt into the mixture, followed by lemon juice. Stir until heated through, then ladle into bowls. Garnish with reserved asparagus tips. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

  • Still life with a packing gun

    Packing gun
    Well, the tape gun I borrowed from Christine a few moves ago started its comeback tour Sunday afternoon. I've been holding off on packing until we knew where exactly we were going but after the last six weeks of speed-dating through Yamhill and Washington County's RLMS listings we have left it up to God. (Funny, huh? The way we pretend that's something we decided rather than the way it is.)

    Anyway, we found another house that appears to be The One. Again. But, we'll see.

    In keeping with the dating analogy, I'm one of those people who doesn't necessarily believe that there's only one soul mate for each of us. I believe that love is a choice as much as anything else. It's wonderful to feel like the person you've picked as a partner in life is your soul mate, but I think it's possible to experience that more than once in a lifetime.

    Which reminds me of one of my favorite lines from Friends where Ross is worrying that there was only one woman for him, and you know ... there turned out to be one woman for her so he's left wondering what that means for him ... when Joey gives him this pep talk:

    "What are you talking about? "One woman." That's like saying there's only one flavor of ice cream for you. Let me tell you something, Ross. There's lots of flavors out there. There's Rocky Road, and Cookie Dough, and Bing! Cherry Vanilla. You could get 'em with Jimmies, or nuts, or whipped cream! This is the best thing that ever happened to you! You got married, you were, like, what, eight? Welcome back to the world! Grab a spoon!"

    Maybe it's a stretch but the way I see it, picking the right house for us is like picking the right life partner. Initially there's the element of falling in love, something to do with how the house makes you feel and your first impression of its looks and character.

    We're looking for a house with integrity and some soul. We're looking for a house that will do more than hold a roof over our heads. We want a place to grow together and continue becoming the best version of us possible.

    Did we find that house this weekend? We sure hope so. When I hear back either way today I'll share the backstory with you but for now I'll just say ... we're anxiously waiting for her to call back. You know, like dating.

    Sam packing Sam packing (2)

    Jake's zaba

     Sam helping us pack. He kept saying, "I make a nice pile for ya!" And then, here's Jake doing his part by staying content wrestling with his zaba.


    His and Hers house

    We walked into the first house and I fell in love. It just felt like home and it was so very "us." It had so many of the things we were looking for, things that were hard to find like a detached garage that would do as a shop and enough bedrooms for the money, a bathroom on the upstairs floor ... this house had bedrooms for all of us plusan office for me and a shop for Matt. It's got character in spades, late 1930s with enough updates to make it comfortable It's got things we didn't have in our first house, neat things like heat and new windows. It needs some new floor coverings in places and some cleaning up, a few hours with a pressure washer and a few other things.

    We both loved it. That's been a very hard thing to find. Sam even kept referring to it as "Sam's house." Which, to be fair, he also did with the first house we offered on but not in any of the other ones we've looked at.

    Then we went to look at another house, just because we already set it up and might as well. I walked into this house and it was the very definition of "move-in ready." As I said before, I wanted everything but this lady's clothes. The yard was immaculate ... which Matt later pointed out would be our responsibility to keep up and that's honestly not likely to happen.

    After walking through this second house I started thinking of the other one as more of a fixer upper than it really is because by comparison it needed some work before we moved in while the second one didn't. The more we talked about it though, the more I think the second one would feel like a really nice rental rather than our home.

    I knew when we headed home that it would be a long night of back and forth. When we finally agreed to put it all in black and white on paper I started to label the list: "my house" and "Matt's house." That didn't seem like the best way to approach it though so I scratched that out and wrote the addresses instead. At times during this process though it did seem like the only solution would be a "his and hers" house situation.

    After looking at everything on paper, it was clear the first house was the best decision for us and I was happy about it, but not as thrilled as I would've been had I never seen the second house. So I spent some time thinking about why and realized the things I loved about that second house were really superficial. Hello? I could get some black paint and paint the kitchen cupboards like she had them and get some cool, funky dishes. I didn't need to buy a whole house to have that. And I could commit to getting our new house, wherever it is, decorated in the first year instead of seven years after moving into it because our new one will not be a fixer upper!

    Speaking of which ... I had a skewed mental picture of that first house. So the next day Amy and I walked over to it with the kids and (police friends stop reading here) as we walked around the property, I think it's called trespassing, I fell in love with it again.

    I wrote the earnest money check with hope in my heart. This house isn't a compromise, I just took a different path to the same front door.

    p.s.I love that I live in a town where our real estate broker can't get me on the phone, but can still drive up from McMinnville, take a lap around town and find me at the park to sign papers and write an earnest money check while I watch my kids play at the park.

    The joy of compromise

    Marriage is said to be an eternal exercise in compromise. (Okay, maybe I'm the one that says that.)

    I feel a little bit bad for our real estate broker, who is also our friend. The guy's job is to find, show and help us buy and sell our houses, right? But he ends up being a little bit of a marriage counselor in the process.

    The second time he signed on to help us buy a home, he knew more of what he was getting into based on the ups and downs of the first time. I distinctly remember driving around looking at houses, Matt in the front seat pointed out every piece-of-crap fixer upper he saw and me sitting behind Chris poking him in the shoulder blades to keep driving past most of them.

    My darling husband has the notion that there are more hours in the day and more dollars in our bank account than there actually are. The guy can make stuff happen, that's for sure ... and his work is beautiful, no doubt about that. But two years later I'm still waiting for the toilet holder to be installed. I'm often tempted to do it myself but Matt would be less than happy to find my handiwork.

    All that being said ... we were trying to figure out what our next house should be like and I thought we had a pretty clear picture but we still kept walking out of the same houses with totally different impressions. Chris (our broker friend) more than once heard things like me saying: "I don't want to live in this house." And then Matt would come around the corner and say "I love this house!" Well, damn.

    But I think we found The House yesterday. I keep waiting for the thrill of the find to wear off, but it isn't. I loved it from the second I walked in. My normally calm, cool and collected husband was visibly excited ... "Honey, go look at the upstairs and let's decide what we want to offer."

    Just one small problem ...we went to look at one more house. And I wanted to move into it on the spot. I wanted this lady's dishes, wall decorations and a house we could move into without doing a damn thing besides unpacking. The first house needs what Matt refers to as "finishing touches." Most people, myself included, would say "it needs some work" by which I mean I'm not moving in until those things are done because that's the house we're putting an offer on!

    Fingers crossed, as soon as I finish typing this of course.





















    Move in ready ... or not

    While I got myself all worked up about being homeless yesterday, it occurs to me that everything is actually going to be okay. Homeless implies that I can't put a roof over my head but in our case it's just that I don't know exactly what the roof will look like. Or even where it's located. Or when we'll find it. Luckily I've got a little faith and friends like Booker to talk me off the ledge, friends like Amy and George who invited us over to celebrate St. Patrick's Day instead of staying home and being depressed over what turns out to be just a road block, and friends like Chris who will surely help us find our new house in the next few weeks. No pressure.

    Since I tend to take you along on all my journeys, welcome to Operation Faith and Flexibility, take two.

    Tonight we're planning to look at a house that, no kidding, is described like this:

    Heres your chance to get a great 3 acre parcel just on the edge of Carlton. Major fixer home with barn, shed, several outbuildings and lots of blackberries. They give privacy if you have enough of them. City water and septic. Buyer to verify.

    Mom and Dad, don't freak out ... we'd fix it before we move in. Promise. Or else we'll be looking for more of a "his and hers" house kind of deal.

    You might recall some of my frustrations with the process of buying homes from this blog post:

    Move in ready? (click to read, I know most of you know that).

    I'm sure it's the fate of many writers to write notes on all manners of material (random envelopes, toilet paper tubes, receipts, napkins etc) and then not be able to find THE one they need on deadline. Also, I suspect I'm not the only one who finds said notes and then wonders what I was thinking when I wrote it. For example, I found this in my blog's "drafts" folder, which by the way has turned out to be another place to store more things I can't find when I need them.

    Nathalie's Notes: I realized too late that I didn't have crushed pineapple, only chunks. So I brought out the meat cleaver and went to town. Also no sour cream, so I used some of Sam's whole milk yogurt. I think this would make a lovely cake.

    I really would love to know what I was cooking that lead me to crushing my own pineapple with a meat cleaver.

    All my spare energy has been going into a project I can share more about later in the week but I wanted to check in with a few pictures and to say, all is well (albeit a little crazy) here.

    P.S. This picture is of Sam getting cozy at school, which he pronounces like this:


    And yes, that is still the same paint in his hair from school that morning.

    Minding my manners

    Sam (2)
    Jake & Mommy
    When it comes to success, I don't think there's any one key but rather a bulky, jangling key ring - like the kind custodians have. Think: the kind that would rip out your ignition.

    So one  of those keys to success is having genuine manners. To me that means not just "good" manners where you know to say please and thank you but real, authentic manners. I am happy that while people can say things about my son that might be less than flattering, he already has better manners than some of the adults I interact with. One of my things is that while I try to give him a lot of choices, sometime the only options are: he can say "yes, please" or "no, thanks."

    Imagine my surprise, though, when he gave me a little lesson in manners.

    He was sitting in my lap as I read to him and he kept trying to pull my glasses off. I found this annoying. "Stop it, Sam." "Quit it!" "I said stop it!"

    He cocked his little head to the side, smiled his spritely little smile and said:

    "How about say 'no tanks' Mama." He looked at me pointedly and grabbed for the glasses again.

    "No thanks, Sam." I said through gritted teeth.

    "Okay Mama I stop it."

    All is quiet on the blogging front

    I do it to myself, but that doesn't make it any less irritating. My plate got a little full and now I'm sick. Just a cold and a little pink eye for added fun, and because I didn't have enough laundry backing up.

    I'm fine as long as I don't bend over or move much. I'm sure the boys will understand. Luckily the sun is out and I bet I can keep Sam happily busy at the park and a little Vitamin D won't hurt me either.

    The pink eye thing is a bummer but what really sucks is that I have to wear my old, crooked glasses with a really outdated prescription so I can't see that well and I'm super self-conscious in them. I have a council meeting tonight and have to show up looking like a nerd with puffy eyes. It reminds me of the time I had to show up at a tennis match wearing my glasses held together by tape.

    I think I'll add getting new glasses to my list of things to do this month!

    Moving in the direction of our dreams ... literally.

    Cape Alava - Loading up

    Funny story. We're moving. I just don't know exactly where.

    But didn't you just unpack the last of your boxes a couple months ago? You might ask. And yes. Yes I did.

    I believe in moving steadily in the direction of your dreams. I just didn't realize that the "moving" part had to be so literal. 

    This is, as you might guess, a longer story than I have time to share now but rest assured ... there is a story and it's awesome. It'll be even awesomer when I can tell you for sure I won't be on an extended camping trip in, say, your back yard.

    This picture of us was taken in Bellingham as we were packing for our backpacking trip to Cape Alava (Olympic National Park) ten years ago. The loads we carry are different, my hair is shorter and lighter (okay more gray) but we're still game for adventures. And, sadly, Matt is still wearing that hat. This morning even.

    The quote I live by ...

    "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler." - Thoreau