Thursday, April 30, 2009

Time to relax and recover

Hanno and I had a day out yesterday. We had a couple of errands to run so we decided to make a day of it, have lunch out and enjoy the day. Oh dear, it was not good. We had to go into Brisbane, which is our state's capital city, and even though we bypassed the main city, we had to deal with a lot of traffic and many trucks driving very close to us. As we went over the Gateway Bridge, with a

Follow up stories

Additional photos of Sarah's creations
These were designed by Heather French and beaded by Sarah. Those large beads are "beaded beads". For non-beaders...holding these in your hands, you have to be amazed how incredible these pieces are .

I don't just bake cookies, here, I'm baking tags!

My new mattress. It is here under all the linen.
Don't be clicking on this pic and counting the # of pillows,
and yes, I did remove 2 for the photo...Ha!
8 hours of sleep. zzzzzzzzzzz
I may be able to remember my name all day today.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Position description: Homemaker. Remuneration: Nil.

No one would apply for our jobs. We work long hours, have no days off, we have to balance our budgets no matter what the circumstances, we are responsible for the mental and physical health of any number of children as we raise them to take on that responsibility for themselves. We act as role model, advisor, counsellor, guide and friend, we drive them to school, the library and the doctor,

Once upon a mattress

The plan yesterday afternoon was for Pam and I to go check out her new rental house here and brain storm ideas for low cost decorating, since she has beautiful enormous home in UT. Owners/landlords however, were still packing up when we arrived, so plans to walk around and talk about all the changes we were going to make was not appropriate. 

Of course we headed off to eat instead.

Nourishment accomplished, we then trekked over to Big Lots to check out cheap couches and mattresses for her.  One hour later I had bought a new mattress...HUH? While explaining the benefits of buying a queen there instead of full ( because she already has those size linens) as she had planned, and buying last night because of addt'l $200.00 off, I had begun "sampling" the comforts of each bed myself. I have been having some trouble sleeping since returning from Portland and loved the super soft pillow top I had in my room there. Well, one quick hop onto Big Lots most expensive set and.....heaven......just like Portland. Pam and I started talking about our sheet sets and what to do with my extra full size mattress and Ding Ding we have a winner!  We both got mattresses and she is buying my full size guest set at great price to put in their second bedroom for grandson Ryan and she already has sheet set etc. I get some extra money to help pay for my new master bedroom set and I'll move my current queen set from master into guest room to comfort tall son when he comes to visit. So sad to see his feet sticking out end of current mattress. We still have a few hollywood frame issues to resolve (anyone have any unused in their garage?) but by Thursday we should both be comfy cozy in our new beds. The set will cost me just $47o after discounts and sale of full size. Orig price of Serta set is $900 I believe. They sell for $749. Last night we got $200.00 off, and I sold full set for $125. Her deal is better. Hers comes with a man.

We still have couch issue ( again, anyone selling any?) but I'm sure we'll come up with another great plan. This house is going to be a creative challenge but I love it. It is more fun to work with smaller budget, more ideas spring forth. Plus, it just makes sense to save money and small budgets are where I thrive. I already sent Pam an email this morning at 6 am telling her to call me because I had ideas last night. (couldn't sleep again) I will try to post progress pics.

Speaking of decorating challenges....May is another discount month. For May only, my hourly is only $17.00 an hour for most jobs. The job must be completed in May. Spring cleaning anyone?

Listening to flu updates. Wash your hands, wash your hands, friends. I wish they would help calm some nerves by reminding people how many THOUSANDS of people die here each year from other forms of flu. Yes, this is serious, but the %$#@$% media loves to incite fear. One of the local tv stations was interviewing people in NLV asking them if they were afraid to live near pig farms there? That will help, how?

I can't wait to come back and check my email this afternoon, I just know I'm going to find photos from you, my oldgreymare friends.

Enjoy the beautiful day!


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Talented Ladies

Ask and ye shall receive.

The first photos to arrive were these adorable cakes by Kristin Carns. Kristin has plans to start baking some of her smaller, flavored bundt cakes and selling them through a local bakery. As soon as she can figure out the child care. ( 5 boys under 11) Unfortunately we cannot enjoy her cakes because she lives in Idaho. It just might be worth the trip...

Next arrived these home studio and necklace photos from Sarah Stoddard
Her studio is so sparkly and pretty, all soft blues and greens. This is just a tease of how lovely it is. Sarah even has her Mom's crystal chandelier in there!

The necklaces were designed by Sarah and beautifully created with vintage pieces. Each one is different but with the same birds nest theme. I also own one that I received as a gift last year. Everywhere I wear it, I am stopped by someone and asked where I got it and how they can get one. Yes, you can contact her about one for you.

Thank you so much my dear friends for sharing these photos and inspiration with oldgreymare.

Preparing for an emergency

I slept in this morning, on the morning when I have no thought of what to write, but here goes. Let's talk about one of my favourite topics, stockpiling. :- )I was asked the other day in an email about what kind of food and groceries I thought it wise to have on hand for an emergency situation like the swine flu outbreak. I have to tell you that while our stockpile and backyard supplies (eggs,

Monday, April 27, 2009

Amy and I and Blogging

My new friend Amy has inspired me to get my creative blog juices flowing and so I have been planning new ideas for the blog and I am going to be dedicating the next few months to finding incredible women artists to share with you. One of the things I intended from the beginning is to connect creative women and to feature their art for others to enjoy.

There are quite a few of you out there already who regularly stop by oldgreymare (and thank you!) but now I want you to get more involved. Please send me pics of what you are currently working on, creating, decorating etc. and I will post pics to share with everyone else. This serves a dual purpose. One, it showcases your work and I will link to your email or website so you can sell your wares if you so desire and two, it just may inspire another visitor to start a project herself.

Talking to Amy today about our blogging and learning by having more mistakes than successes, reminded me how much easier everything is when we support each other. We laughed about each others blogging bloopers and it takes away any of the fears I have about not knowing enough.

Amy is my first follower, but don't let her sit there by herself, even though she looks adorable in her crocheted hat. If you need help becoming a follower, let me know. You can link directly to Amy's blog by clicking on mittens and from her blog you can go to her etsy site. Guaranteed smiles from baby Brooklyn.

This also means I will be posting more frequently, but in order to not become a nuisance I will not send an email each time I post, unless it is for a specific dated event. I may send a weekly email listing blog topics. We'll see how it goes.

I will have a necklace pic from Sarah very soon (right Sarah?). Many of you have admired the gorgeous birds nest necklace she made for me. Well, wait to you see her beaded bead necklace! Her work is simply amazing, so check back often to see her photo.

I hope to have some pics waiting in my email soon.

Ultimate Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Just finished baking some favorite cookies

1 1/2 cups butter flavored shortening
2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
4 TBS milk
2 TBS vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
12 oz chocolate chunks

Pre-heat to 375

Beat shortening, brown sugar with mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in milk, vanilla and eggs. Mix and stir in flour, salt and soda. Blend in chocolate chunks. Using 2 oz ice cream scoop, space cookies at least 2" apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes for chewy, or 11-13 for crisp. Let cool completely. I was able to make 20 today.

Disclaimer: No, these are not even remotely healthy.

Tomato relish

While there are many elements in a simple life, one of the important and helpful parts of ours, is that Hanno and I have both taught ourselves how to make many of the things we once bought. This wasn't a big stretch for us because we were both brought up in the age before supermarkets and sliced bread, when food was commonly made from scratch and we all made the best of what we had. We tried to

Sunday, April 26, 2009

NYU it is!

NYU will be her home for the next four years.

After days and days of contemplation and a few worries, fears and tears, NYU it is! We just had a celebratory dinner at Cheesecake Factory and even had a cheesecake that said Congratulations!

Hannah is exhausted from thinking so hard, and just went upstairs for a nap. I'm still in shock and trying to grasp the concept of her living so far away. Empty nest, oh my! More like a deep, black undulating cavernous hole of darkness! Does that convey it accurately?

I think I also need a nap, as I am shaken by the knowledge that my kids could not live farther apart even if that had been a deliberate consideration. My brother and I both attended college just 2 hours north from home. We came home on weekends. He hitched most times! I dated a guy from home for 2 years. Things sure are different......

that just does not express the feelings today.....
holy shit! now, that's a mite better..can you see my head shaking to and fro?
time to order t-shirts

Making yoghurt (yogurt) and quark

I hope you had a lovely weekend. We are a home of four adults again. Shane and Sarndra asked if they can stay here till they get jobs and naturally we said yes. We all did our own thing during the day, each working on our projects, then Shane cooked us a delicious chick pea and vegetable stew last night for dinner. It's a real treat having someone prepare the evening meal, especially one of

Oh no!

I have been updating the Co-op blog today and while doing it, removed a lot of the formatting on this blog. Grrrrr. I had just added new blogs to the blog roll! I hope I can remember what was there. I've restored some of the other material but the rest will have to wait.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Swap reminder

I just want to repost the swap reminder Sharon wrote last week. So for those of you in the swap, here is it:Rose and I (Sharon) would like to remind all the ladies who are in the dishtowel and hot pad swap that the deadline is Saturday, April 25. I know that Saturdays are busy family days and that some of you may not get to the Post Office until early in the next week. That usually happens and

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What day is it?

There really is no reason for me to know what day it is, or the time of day for that matter, nevertheless, I do usually know the day. I didn't yesterday though and when I signed off thanking you for visiting this week, I thought it was Friday. Today I know it's Friday but I have no idea what I will write about because after I finished yesterday, I thought it would be another couple of days

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Housework - the never ending task

I am sure you all know that what I write about in my daily post is a small fraction of what Hanno and I get up to each day. If we continue to make a commitment to this way of living, we will be busy every day for the rest of our lives, and that's fine, as long as we enjoy it and pepper our days with rest and variety. I like the idea of us looking after ourselves and not surrendering ourselves to


Arrived home last evening from Portland. It is good to be home with Hannah. I miss Ben. I love Portland.

It was a wonderful trip. Fabulous, fabulous food, and hopefully walking about 5 hours each day, I walked some of the damage back off. Fresh delicata squash salad, pork roulade at Evoe, chicken and dumplings and butter biscuits at Mothers, gorgonzola cheesecake appetizer, steelhead salmon, pot roast at Paragon....oh my! Lots and lots of Oregon wine for Miranda and me and Ben enjoyed many micro brews.

The lovely Vintage Plaza Hotel is downtown and two blocks from Tr-Met, so easy to move about the city. Every evening was wine tasting from 5-6 pm and we were there every evening, before striking out into the city. I discovered a great Sicilian Pinot. Amazing how everyone chatted, reaching out in kindness and friendship.

View from room

Saturday evening we went to Miranda's play, Freakshow, what fun! Miranda acts, directs, writes, books talent, she is a whirlwind of creativity and she loves my son. I am blessed to have spent so many hours this trip getting to know and love her. Miranda made sure I got to bring home some delicious Stumpotown coffee from Backspace, (just one of the places she works) a mug-full I am enjoying now.

The kids and I took the max up (really up!) to Washington Park. I oohed and aahed till I was sick of me.

The light at the end of the tunnel...

tour guides


Mt St Helens

In the park....

Things that made me smile

need I say anything?

to the park!

sigh. far as I'm concerned, it was perfect. sigh

On the home front, computer is going back for repairs at Apple so call instead of email for the next few days. Car in for smog check, and broken sprinklers in front yard. Welcome home.

Happy Earth Day! Recycle. Shut off those lights and air. Throw back the drapes and open the windows. It is shameful how little we do here compared to Portland. I had recycling bins in my room and public toilets have up and down flush, for well, you know......

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Swap Reminder

Rose and I (Sharon) would like to remind all the ladies who are in the dishtowel and hot pad swap that the deadline is Saturday, April 25. I know that Saturdays are busy family days and that some of you may not get to the Post Office until early in the next week. That usually happens and so do not worry about it. Just let your swap buddy know that you are posting a bit late. I have heard

The beauty of a simple bag

I've been thinking about bags lately. Cotton storage bags to be precise. I was given a bread bag for my birthday. It's a cotton bag that has been lined with thin rubber to keep the bread fresh. I have written about covering food and food bags before here but the bags I'm thinking about now can hold food, soap, toys, buttons, knitting or any number of fine things.These recycled bags are

Monday, April 20, 2009

Knitalong and woollen mittens

Despite my gentle reminder about slowing down, I've been very busy of late and today will be no exception. I have a few other things I should be doing, but I have made a commitment to you and to this blog, and it's incredibly enriching for me to write for you, so here I am again, albeit with a shorter post.There are two plants here. The climber is a Richmond green cucumber, which is an old

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Simple living - getting started

New readers often send emails asking about how to start a simple life. This question is almost impossible to answer because we are all so different - different ages, countries, family situations, expectations, assets, desires etc., so I think the best way to help is to tell you how I started and go on from there.
Simple living surprised me. I didn't know there was such a thing but when I

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Just do it

Anna S by Carl Larsson from here.I really enjoyed reading a comment from Elizabeth yesterday. She said, in part, “I have been reading your blog for some time but until last week I just read and wished but did not action in anyway. That is, until this last weekend when I thought 'just do it!' So, I have started knitting a cardigan, knitted three squares for a throw for this winter, and made a

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Water harvesting - self reliance, preparedness and common sense

This is our 10,000 litre poly tank. It collects water from the shed that it sits next to and also from the house. The photo below shows how it's connected to the house.I love rain. I love knowing it's watering the vegetables, being harvested from the roof and stored in our water tanks. Storing water is the same as storing an abundance of vegetables or fruit. You collect it when there is too

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Last winter I was unable to prune my roses on time or properly and this summer they look better and are healthier than ever! Go figure.

Right in front of this vignette is where I plan to put my new brick patio.
Wish I could wash the whole yard in sepia. If I could do that I would also set life to music like a movie soundtrack. What a way to underscore our highs and lows eh?

I spent the day mopping floors and trying to rearrange the living room. Justice and Howie are ruining the chairs in there by rubbing up against them all the time, so I thought if I rearranged the room, they would stop. After much furniture pushing and pulling, everything is right back where it was. I had pulled the high backs and the square table into the room , but the backs of the chairs look too bad even after cleaning them today. The room is so long and narrow my options are very limited. Guess I need someone's house other than mine to rearrange.

oops, just realized the linen sheers are missing. They are still in the wash!

Frustrated, I then started a new display on the newly relocated chest on the landing. Here is the beginning but I will be adding more. I'll post final pics soon. I like the idea of the summer theme, and that vintage hat is oh so darling. (sorry Sue, I still want it, but your name is on it...DIBS!)

Good old summertime.

Queen for the day

I've come full circle again, back to April 15, the day of my birth. I know of some people my age who don't celebrate their birthday. How sad. I grew up with a mother who made our birthdays special and although there was never a lot of money for gifts, my sister and I always knew it was a day when we would be queens for the day and our friends and family would be there to celebrate. Hanno

Monday, April 13, 2009

Behind closed doors

Fifteen years ago, when Hanno and I first bought this little house, we drove along a one lane street, turned onto a dirt driveway and saw a very basic house on a magnificent piece of land surrounded by pine and rainforest. We didn't know it at the time, but this home, of all those we have shared over the years, would nurture us, bring us closer together and ease us along the path to a more simple

Thursday, April 9, 2009

This and That

Spring has roared in, (can you believe those winds?) and I have been busy finishing projects and starting new ones and I worked with Sue for two days in her studio and garage. The garage is so organized, that Sue can now bring more things from inside the house to store out there, freeing up space in closets and drawers and making everything much more accessible, and very convenient. I had a blast, but then I always do when I am reorganizing. Have P-Touch will travel! Tomorrow is Sue's Birthday so a special Happy Birthday wish to her! She already has her first wish. Chipotle opens down the street from her tomorrow. She has been anxiously waiting for months, taunted by the Coming Soon sign in the window.

There is a birdhouse trellis under there somewhere

Spring continues to make the yard look lovely. My trumpet vine has taken over my north wall and I had my first rose of the season last week. Ben gave me this rose bush "just because". No holiday or special occasion, just because. It is always the first to bloom, perhaps because he was my first born.

I have never kept an aloe vera alive long enough before to see it bloom!

I am planning some major yard work this summer. I want more patio space and less grass. It never grows well under my pink silk tree anyway. I'm thinking a used brick patio to match my walkways and borders. I have a yardman Brit, who recently started helping me, and we talked yesterday about how to proceed. I'm going to do some research and then maybe in May, get started on it. BTW Brit is amazing in yard work if any of you need a little help like I do. I have never seen anyone work so hard and he is very affordable.

While pruning bushes yesterday, I had Brit remove a birds nest from my bottle brush tree. It had been used last year by a very busy mocking bird Mother to brood her three chicks. It was quite large and falling apart some and then I looked and Oh No! a wee blue speckled egg... Was it leftover from last year or a new one? I was so distressed and did now know what to do next and then suddenly there was a Mama mocking bird screeching at me from the pink silk tree and hopping all over from branch to branch. I tucked the nest back up into the tree approximately where it had been and apologized profusely to the Mama. I can only hope that she will nest there again this year, and that I was not responsible for the demise of the pretty blue egg. sigh.

the nest

My studio has seen some activity lately. I was playing around with felting i-chords and made these three bracelets for Hannah. She loves them and I have a set almost done for me in shades of tan and green. I also finally finished this primitive stitchery started 2 years ago and framed it up today. It did not take that long to do, I just kept getting sidetracked. I am also nearly done with 70 log cabin squares that I started over 5 years ago. I almost have all my "finish it" projects done. I have NEVER done that before. I'm going to try to stay current from now on. Now, if only I could finish the ironing! I try to do at least 3-5 pieces a day but then I'll skip a few days and I've done more wash and &^%$# there is more ironing to do!

The house has been bustling with girls enjoying spring break and even though the mess that results drives me crazy, I am sure that I will miss it something fierce this fall when they are all away at college. May 1st is the deadline for acceptance for all these schools and all of Hannah's friends are weighing all the opportunities. These students are all in the top 5% in their high schools, so they have a lot of wonderful choices. Hannah is still undecided, but she has eliminated a few. The next two months will be a whirlwind. Proms, Hannah has another art show in about a week, all the IB exams, finals and then graduations. We have almosat all her dorm supplies for college. We've been shopping sales all year. We will just have the last minute clothes shopping to do. Will it be sundresses for CA, snow parkas and mittens for New York, or rain gear for Seattle? We'll know by May 1. Stay tuned.

A special thank you to all of you who read the blog regularly and ask what and when is next? I treasure such good friends. The paper class is almost ready to be scheduled. I have to do some final brainstorming and I will email everyone when it posts.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Don't forget to close your gate

Yesterday was a diamond of a day. The weather was warm, the rain had stopped, the sun poured down and everything seemed right. We had our gate closed most of the day - that symbolises to me that we're content to be here alone and we're cut off from the rest of the world. Letting go of the world occasionally is enriching and restorative for me and it allows me to reconnect entirely with

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Feed subscription

I hope I've fixed my feedburner and have now added the feedburner subscription icon and email to the right and left sides of the blog. If you've subscribed in the past, please use these new facilities to update your subscription. If you've never subscribed, you may do so by using the same facilities.Thanks everyone. I hope this works. And thanks to Melinda for putting me onto the feedburner

Loving legumes

Green beans and peas growing together. All photos will enlarge if you click on them.Legumes - peas and beans - are very versatile and valuable crops. Different varieties of legumes can be grown in hot or cold climates, they're quite easy to grow, the seeds are large so saving seeds isn't difficult and both peas and beans can be eaten fresh or dry. I see them as an excellent backyard crop because

Monday, April 6, 2009

Find your path

Pebbledash picked it up, I am turning 61, not 62! Thanks Diana. Meryl, one of the volunteers I work with picked it up too. When I mentioned at lunch yesterday that my birthday was coming up, she said it didn't seem so long ago we celebrated my last birthday. Then it hit me, they gave me a morning tea for my 60th, I'm still a mere slip of a girl - I'm going to be 61. :- )I removed the email

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I own Autumn

I feel like I own Autumn. I was born in April so Autumn is my season, it is when I feel the most comfortable, the time when I know deep within me that anything is possible and the time when on the 15th of the month, I realise I am one step closer to my grave. I will soon be 62. I have been thinking about aging for a while now, not because I am getting older but because those around me are. Sure I

Friday, April 3, 2009

Making changes

Hello everyone. Please bear with me today while I make some changes to my blog. Hopefully it will be finished by this afternoon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Washing up - UPDATED

I keep coming back to it, even though I don't have to, it's one of the daily tasks in my home that slows me down and focuses my mind on what I am trying to achieve. Washing up. It must be something all our ancestors did and I am pleased that even though my washing up is in a stainless steel sink, it is still symbolic of going back to basics.I've read a lot of the research that says a modern

Radio National interview

I missed listening to the Radio National interview because I got my times wrong. :- O However, Hanno and I have just listened to it online. If you want to listen, it's here.

The hierarchy of food

I have received quite a few emails lately asking about what I call the hierarchy of food. The questions ask how important is it to eat organic food, how can we afford to buy it on our limited budget and how does organic food fit into a simple and frugal life.As many of you know, we grow a lot of our own fruit and vegetables and we have chooks for eggs; all that is organic. We try to grow our