Author Archives: mrs & mrs thrift

a very special birthday

Today is the birthday of our precious land shark disguised as a chihuahua, our dog-shaped vacuum cleaner, my little squirrel-chasin’, compost-snackin’, foot-warmin’ princess. For her birthday, we spent the day at Grandma’s house, and she probably ate too many treats. Happy birthday, Clementine. I hope your next year is the best yet.

(p.s. we are not the only people who remember/celebrate pet birthdays, right?)

Leave a comment

Filed under pets

Santa! Don’t pass us by!

First and foremost, Happy Solstice to all of you. We’re not really solstice-celebrating people, but I am SO EXCITED about the lengthening days. I got really emotional about solstice this year. I don’t know if it’s because we’re so far north I can practically see Santa’s workshop from my house (in the same way that Ms. Palin can see Russia), or if it’s because I am working full time (which I was not last winter), but this winter seems hella dark. Like, when I walk to the parking lot after work, the moon is up. How is that even possible??? Come back, Sun. I need you and your UV rays. So, happy solstice everybody.

We do celebrate the Christmas around here, though. We even drank this weird JULMUST soda from another country. It’s made with hops and barely, so it takes like alcohol, but it is totally non-alcoholic. (side story: Levi did a project on JUL (pronounced YOOL, apparently, who would have guessed? not me.) for school. He baked like 6 dozen ginger snaps for his school celebration, and let me tell you, those ginger snaps were delicious. We got to sample cookies, he got to learn about another culture, everybody wins.) So We drank the non-alcoholic JULMUST. However, do you know what’s NOT non-alcoholic?

These are the pecan pralines that Martha Stewart I mean Krista made. Secret Ingredient:

Santa’s little helpers have been busy in our kitchen, and we’ve been delivering special little parcels of delicious treats to our friends around town. More about our recent baked goods & candy t-o-m-o-r-r-o-w!!!


Filed under family, food, winter

This weekend, Krista was like “What the heck! You haven’t blogged about the Master Gardener program yet?” Well, I have been holding out on you because clearly I prefer to talk about Levi, our pets and our house to discussing my own personal triumphs. So, here’s the overdue blog entry.

A few months back I applied for the local Master Gardener program through the county’s extension office and Washington State University. The MG program is a combination of training and service. You spend months learning tons of stuff about botany, integrated pest management, soil science, plant identification, pest and disease diagnosis. Then you do a lot of volunteer work, mostly in demonstration gardens, clinics, outreach programs, etc. The program is great for developing your personal knowledge about gardening, but better than that, it’s a rare and wonderful opportunity to become a trained education and help deliver messages related to water-wise gardening, composting, and low-impact landscaping. In case you don’t know me very well, I majored in environmental science & minored in botany, and I’ve been experiencing minor “career conflict” lately as I feel pulled to spend time planting and growing things. The obligations of being a new homeowner encourage me to maintain regular employment, however.

The Master Gardener program only accepts 50 people a year. Gardening is increasingly popular as the green/environmental movement picks up speed & the economy pushes people to reconnect with the concept of victory gardens. I was nervous about whether I’d get in or not, so I didn’t tell many people about it. For whatever reasons, they accepted me! Classes start the first week of February. I’ll spend about 4 months in training, and then a year completing the Apprentice (volunteer hours) portion of the program. I’m super excited about the whole thing, but I couldn’t have done it on my own. My co-worker Kate got me excited about it, Krista urged me to apply, and my boss agreed to be flexible with my hours during the training period. Many thanks to all of them for being the support I clearly desperately need!

Yes, I am happy to help you with whatever you need in your garden. I’m going to be way overbooked for awhile, since I’ll be working full time, doing the MG training, and renovating our own garden. Have I mentioned lately how excited I am to start work on our yard?!? Krista & I already started a spreadsheet of our 2010 garden plans. And yes, somehow I still plan to start a bee hive & a flock of chickens. 2010 is going to be a “hold onto your hats” kind of year.


Filed under home, urban farming, winter


Did you know that it snowed in Olympia on Sunday? Yes, it did. My coworkers tell me that it did not snow in Seattle, but it snowed most of the day in Olympia. The roads were pretty treacherous, but we did get to see our house in the snow for the first time ever.

And I was also reminded of how very, very much tiny dogs hate the snow. Cash has been wearing his new sweater, which was purchased locally and handmade from organic wool. Clementine, however, refuses to wear any sweaters, even if they are organic, handmade wool. So she’s very cold.

Speaking of people who refuse to dress weather-appropriately, Levi insists that wearing a blazer is good enough for wintertime temperatures. He is quick to point out that winter does not even technically start until December 21, and a blazer is perfectly adequate for the fall. Fortunately, the snow melted the next morning and heavy rains set in, and a blazer is adequate for that.


Filed under home, pets, winter


Before & After

Just a reminder: Our apple tree fell down. Fortunately, my friend Kate knows how to use a chainsaw. She came over Sunday and we spent the morning in the backyard. She missed her calling as a lumberjack, because she dissected that tree into “manageable pieces” in a matter of minutes.

The apple tree has been reduced to a pile of apple sticks and apple logs.

Now, we just have to decide what we’re going to do with the manageable pieces.


Filed under fall, home, urban farming

december, the first week

So, first of all it’s 9 degrees. Fahrenheit. Not like how I speak in hyperbole and I say, “It’s like 9 degrees!!” and I mean, “It’s really cold,” but like the real NINE DEGREES outdoors. I feel totally and completely lied to, since I left the east coast for promises of “mild winters,” a promise that remains unfulfilled.

Pittsburgh winter (two years ago):

Olympia winter (last year):

The only difference I see is that in Pittsburgh, they plow the roads.

Of course, inside it’s plenty warm, partially because we have small, warm pets who love to cuddle and partially because I am in love with our programmable thermostat and high-efficiency furnace.

This isn’t about our updated energy-efficient heating system, however. This post is actually about our apple tree. Really, the apple tree is barely ours. We’ve only lived here a few months, and I don’t think anyone in our house even ate any of the apples. It was sorely neglected by the former owners, and I was probably going to try to prune it and break my limbs working on it, and then pay not only my medical bills but also a certified arborist to come finish pruning it. So basically, this was going to be an expensive old apple tree. But it’s an apple tree, so what can you do? You certainly can not just cut it down, even if it is right in the middle of what might otherwise be your perfectly lovely garden space with raised beds and a little footpath. No, you can’t cut it down. You have to keep it and give up the dream of gardening in your apple tree-shaded backyard.

Unless there’s a big wind storm and the tree just falls. Then, it’s the best of all possible options. You are alleviated of guilt, and the garden space is returned to your green thumb’s ambitious care.

Here is the tree, just a few months ago, with children laughing nearby, apples ripening on its branches, and small dogs scampering in its leafy shade.

And here is the tree today, just resting on its side in the morning sun like it hit snooze and overslept the night after a raucous partying.

So, Rest in Peace, old apple tree. I hope you have a long, quiet winter in the big orchard in the sky. And thank you for missing the garage, the house, and even the compost bin. We’re super grateful that your downfall did not become an insurance claim.


Filed under fall, home, urban farming

Wee House

Krista found this small wooden sign at the Lighthouse Antique Mall in Olympia, and both of us instantly thought “OH! We need that!” It is nestled between an old toy typewriter & one of our many favorite pictures of Levi. We don’t have a truly tiny house, but it often feels wee. Especially when there’s a cat-dog tornado tearing through the place….

Leave a comment

Filed under fall, home

Daily Levi

I had to use a shoehorn to get him in there, but here’s a photo of Levi in one of those little cars at the mall that small children can ride in to avoid temper tantrums during the crowded shopping season. It said “Maximum Age Six,” but we don’t let little things like that get in our way of a good time.

He also tried to ride one of the tiny motorcycles. The kid is like three times as tall as one of these. He said, “I remember this being a lot bigger…”

Leave a comment

Filed under fall, family

New Skills

This was our dining room when we moved in. First, we eliminated the maroon trim, the pale green walls and the hanging blinds covering the door. Our next order of business has been finding a light fixture to replace that perfectly functional and perfectly hideous light up there. My dad is right: it’s wasteful to replace a perfectly good light fixture, but we’ll be donating it to a good cause, and we replaced it with a recycled/reused fixture (i.e. no new carbon footprint). I don’t think he ever reads this blog, but you can tell him for me. You are right, Dad.

I mentioned a few days ago that we were spending hours searching all of the webs for new light fixtures, but we haven’t been able to find something we both love and adore. Both of us really wanted an antique fixture. This weekend, we drove to Tacoma to shop (not in the Black Friday way). There’s an area in downtown Tacoma (Broadway) that is lined with antique shops. We spent several hours checking out each store without much luck. We were about to call it a night, but decided to check out the only store we hadn’t been to yet. I’m glad we perservered, because we found an industrial/commercial grade farm fixture from the 1940s for a wonderfully low price (which became even lower with some bargaining). The dealer told us it had been salvaged from a small, old farm.

It’s the perfect combination of everything we were looking for, and neither of us could be more pleased. I will readily admit that I get a little uncertain when it comes to tackling house projects. I’m always afraid we’re going to start a fire or break something expensive (my two worst house fears, clearly).

There is a process we go through for each project:
1. google research/book reading 2. collaborative brainstorming. 3. visit the hardware store. 4. call my dad. 5. decide to trust your gut and just go for it.

Most of the time this process works quite well, actually. And my courage was bolstered after reading some words of support on a blog, Making It Lovely. Nicole and Brandon changed six light fixtures! Certainly we can do one!

There’s always a “hold your breath and jump” moment. This time, that moment was when Krista grabbed the electrical wires. They stick out of the ceiling in an ominous fashion! They transmit deadly voltage! We used a voltage tester to be sure they weren’t live, but I still panicked! (Viva la neurosis.) And of course, everything was fine, and the light fixture is now brilliantly attached with all the skills of Krista’s secret inner electrician.

When we left the store, carrying the new light fixture, the guy said, “You know, you could have a bar fight and that light wouldn’t break.” That’s exactly the sort of durability we’re looking for.


Filed under home

Stop the presses

Levi is cleaning his room. I even heard the vacuum going a few minutes ago. There was some minor screen time restriction that preceded this amazing event, but even that has not always been an effective strategy in the past. If only that pesky orange paint would remove itself from our bedrooms, we’d be the champions of the world. Couple all of this with the mountain of laundry that I conquered this weekend and the gloriously unpacked and cleaned front rooms of our house, and we’re practically ready for Better Homes & Gardens to stop by.

If Better Homes & Gardens is busy, perhaps you could send Dog Fancy.

Leave a comment

Filed under fall, home