Category Archives: traditions

So long, 2011!

First of all, thank you to everyone who posted sweet things on our last post. Despite a rough week, it still seems like this has been an incredible year. If 2010 was great, 2011 was spectacular. Life is pretty sweet, and I have high hopes for it to continue to get better.

We accomplished some things this year. It feels good to make a list:

  • We finally added that flock of chickens we had been talking about for years.
  • With a lot of help from a friend and some good plans, I built the chicken coop of our dreams.
  • We ate for $5/person/day for an entire month, and started buying mostly organic food once we realized we can afford it.
  • Jess read her goal of 110 books. I know, she is crazy and amazing. Also, she suffers from insomnia.
  • I lost and kept off 40 pounds (no, those extra holiday pounds don’t count).
  • Slowly but surely we redecorated our bedroom. We might even share it with you soon.
  • We both became better gardeners, and expanded our garden into our first community plot.
  • I learned to can, and Jess practically became a canning guru.
  • We took an epic nine day family road trip and didn’t even come close to getting sick of each other.
  • I turned 35, and learned that it isn’t actually the kiss of death. In fact, I kind of think things are just starting to get good.
  • Jess got a second hive of bees, lost them twice, and learned a lot in the process.
  • I interviewed for and earned a promotion at work.
  • I put a lot of energy into cooking and photography, and saw real progress.
  • We blogged more, and gained some readers. Hello, and thank you so much!

Things that were popular in our house in 2011: The Hunger Games series, breakfast pizza for dinner, The Killing, paneer, baby chicks, porcini mushrooms, canning parties, quinoa (finally, I learned to love it), gay celebrity memoirs, Hitchcock films, baked oatmeal, and Little House on the Prairie.

Hopes for 2012: I never say this, but I think I’m going to read more in 2012. I know Jess and Levi both will, since they always do AND I gave them both Kindles for Christmas. We will be adding some new critters to the family. You can go ahead and guess what sort of critters, but I won’t confirm or deny anything. Maybe 2012 will be the year we get better at exercising on a regular basis, and better yet if it comes in the form of manual labor in the yard and house. We made a conscious decision to slow down on the house projects in 2011, but now it is time to move forward. Bonus points for all house/yard projects that improve organization. We have a lot on our plates, and decided against a month-long project for January. I have a handful of projects in mind that we hope to get started ASAP, so stay tuned!

Some photo highlights of our year:

January: a blur of cooking, photographing food, and adding up receipts.

February: One of many day trips to Portland.

March: Levi holds up the light fixture I assembled. Also pictured, our “new” bedroom lockers.

April: Alcatraz, one of many highlights of our road trip. Sadly, I lost my photos of about half of our trip when my computer hard drive croaked and they hadn’t been uploaded yet.

May: baby chick invasion!

June: We got a jar of honey from the backyard. We made homemade honey ice cream to celebrate.

July: the chickens moved outside! So many wonderful things happened in July, but this was probably my favorite picture of all year.

I tried to limit it to one photo from each month, but Mount St. Helens was special. Give me a break, July is the summer, two of our three birthdays, and our wedding anniversary. Things happen.

August: the Hoh Rainforest

September: Seattle adventures for my 35th birthday

October: Adventures in Astoria, OR

November: baked oatmeal, still going strong. In this instance, my gingerbread baked oatmeal.

December: a picnic in the park

What a year! Thanks for reading along with our adventures. It is so great to chronicle our journey here. We’re wishing you the happiest new year ever, full of laughter, love, good health, adventures, really excellent gardening weather and plenty of baked oatmeals.

Krista, Jess & our brood


Filed under family, traditions

DIY holiday gift round-up

It’s that time of year. Time to bust out some of those precious canned goods for holiday gifts, or better yet, make some homemade goods especially for gift giving. As we prepare for a food swap next week and plan for the holidays, I have DIY gifts on the mind. Here are some of the links I’ve been looking at:


Filed under holidays, traditions

Thanksgiving for busy people

I love nothing more than cooking an elaborate Thanksgiving meal with the works. That won’t be happening this year, though. The 911 center doesn’t close on holidays, so I will be working my usual 10 hour shift. It’s okay, I love holiday pay, and even though we won’t make it up north to visit the extended family, I will be home early enough to make a few dishes and join some friends for dinner.

Here’s what we’ll be making:

We’ll be the only vegetarians in attendance, so we’re bringing our own Tofurky. We like the simple roast, without the extras. It’s much better with homemade gravy.

Here’s an old picture of my homemade vegan gravy. This recipe has evolved over the years, and I might just have a few tricks up my sleeve. True story: the day Jess and I met I cooked my vegan biscuits and gravy. It’s on my list to write a recipe zine next year that includes this recipe.

Photo via Real Simple

Of course we will also need to bring meat-free stuffing. Last year we tried Real Simple’s Cheddar and Jalapeño Stuffing, and I suspect we’ll be making every year going forward. Italian bread, jalapeños, cheddar cheese, and lager beer – need I say more?

Photo via BHG

I’m dying to try this recipe for Creamy Green Beans with Crispy Shallots from Better Homes and Gardens. Due to time limitations, we’ll be going for the all-American green bean casserole from the recipe on the french fried onion can. I’m hoping we can try the crispy shallot recipe sometime over the holidays. I love a good green bean casserole. It has to be even better from scratch, right?

Photo via Epicurious

And of course I have to bring some pecan pie. I’ll probably be making three of these, one for work and two for Thanksgiving dinner. I’m going to try this recipe from Epicurious, although I’m omitting the orange zest. I already messed up one dessert with orange zest earlier this year.

A few Thanksgiving links

Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving full of incredible food. Now I better get to the store before they sell out of pecans!


Filed under food, holidays, traditions

Turkey Day for vegetarians

When Levi was little, we had a Thanksgiving tradition. In honor of Turkey Day, we would adopt a turkey from Farm Sanctuary. We didn’t bring home an actual turkey. In exchange for a donation you get a picture of the turkey in the mail. It’s just a clever fundraiser for a good organization. Farm Sanctuary rescues animals and shelters them at its farms in California and New York. They also educate and advocate for animal welfare.

Somehow we fell out of the habit of our annual adoption/donation, and then the other day I mentioned it to Jess. It turns out her aunt used to “adopt a turkey” in her honor every year, too. So we decided this would be a good year to start the tradition again.

This is Payton, our Adopt-a-Turkey of choice. RIDICULOUS.

Speaking of little vegetarians, a great book to read with them is Dav Pilkey’s ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving.

Set to the familiar Christmas poem, it’s a story about a group of kids who go on a field trip to a turkey farm. They become so enamored with the turkeys they are horrified to realize their fate as Thanksgiving dinner. They decide to try to save the turkeys, and well… I won’t spoil the ending.

The rest of our traditions are pretty standard: gorging ourselves on delicious food, suffering from carb overload, and spending time with friends and family. I can’t wait to eat some mashed potatoes and gravy, the cheddar and jalapeño stuffing we loved so much last year, and some pecan pie!

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Filed under family, traditions

our fall tradition: the local cider mill

Every October we head over to nearby Lattin’s Country Cider Mill. There’s a pumpkin patch, an apple slingshot, tractor-pulled wagon rides, and all the adorable farm animals you can handle. The real reason we go (and the teenager still comes with us): fresh from the fryer apple fritters.

This year and last we ended up going on the weekend, which means a lot of patience and determination are required. People for miles around know about these fritters. First you wait in a long, slow line to pay for the fritters. Then you get a number and have to wait with a crowd of people until yours are ready and your number is called. We figured out a couple years ago how to pass the time: apple cider slushies!

Apple cider goodness in slushy form. Genius.

Levi & Jess saved their appetites and got smalls. I went for the large. No regrets!

The other way to pass time while waiting for your fritters is to watch them being made. It is mesmerizing. They have them already prepped, and then lower entire trays directly into the fryer. Then they stay nearby with what look like giant chopsticks to flip them over when the first side is golden brown. Once they are pulled out they dump them off the tray and literally pour a pitcher of glaze over them.

The glaze melts before your eyes and the gleaming apple fritters are ready to go. Once we have our bag of fritters in hand, we make a beeline to the nearest spot to sit outside and eat them while they are still nice and warm.

Levi took the first bite and declared that not only were they worth the wait, they would be worth 10 times that wait. Then he did the math and we decided maybe they wouldn’t be worth that long a wait, but they most certainly were worth the 30 or 40 minutes we waited and then some.

Warm and gooey sweetness with bits of fresh apple. There is nothing quite like it.

I have no idea how Levi made himself this short but I appreciated it.

There is so much to see and do. I’m so glad we were able to fit this into our busy weekend. A few more highlights:


Filed under fall, family, traditions