Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I have lived in the Seattle area for about 3 months now, and have seen some amazing sights, including seeing (and hearing!) a seal "barking" while swimming in Puget Sound!  But what I'm excited about right now is the fact that my mother & grandmother are flying here from Ohio to visit in March! 
I'm very excited to see them, and show them around all the sights of Seattle.  There are a few things they desperately want to see, and I'm going to ensure that they do!
One of the sights they want to see is Pike Place Market, which is the 2nd picture.  I've been there a few times, and there's never enough time to see all that the Market has to offer!  I'm sure us ladies will spend most of the afternoon walking around the booths. 
Another thing my mom has already mentioned she wants to do is ride the Monorail from the Space Needle into downtown.  The 3rd picture is a photo of the Monorail's "end of the line."
I'm thrilled to show them this amazing place I live in, and I hope they like it so much they decide they must move here immediately!
It is so wonderful to live in such a place as this:  a place with mountains, water, a vibrant culture, and of course, possibly my favorite thing of all:  an abundance of coffee!  Just thinking about such things helps me remember that life really is good, after all, even when times are tough.  Life is Good!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

1st Snowfall in Washington State

Ain't life grand?  Here's Levi (our pup) and my in-laws' pup, Henry, playing in the first snowfall of the year in Washington state.  They are so funny!  Levi had NEVER seen snow before today, and we were worried that he'd be freaked out or scared by it, but he LOVED it!  And, since it's wet here in the Pacific Northwest, it's the best snowball-packing snow I've ever seen!  Amazing!  What fun!  Now, if all our family can have safe travels on the roads during this snowstorm, then that will be the perfect blessing to add to this beautiful weather!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Teach a man to farm & feed him for a lifetime

I've always wanted to help people in some unique, important fashion, but I've also always never quite known what my skills, gifts, and dreams are, or even how & with what I what to get involved.  I have not felt strongly passionate about volunteering and giving my time to something in a long while.
This feeling of wanting to do something to help others, but not feeling led in any particular direction, has been difficult and confusing for me.  But now, especially since Eric & I are now living on the other side of the country, there are new things to get involved in, a smaller, more intimate church that has already made us feel welcome and loved, and more mild weather to be outside in.
I feel now that perhaps my life is heading in a particular direction that is definitely unique. What's funny & crazy in a God-given Dream, Destiny sort of way is that Eric has an incredibly generous heart and desires to help others as well.   The picture below is of our backyard in Cincinnati, and that is a wild deer napping under our maple tree!

Back while we were still living in Cincinnati, we loved the idea of planting a garden in our .25- acre backyard, to provide ourselves with healthy organic produce.  But there were two issues that caused us to do a tiny bit of gardening, but not very much.  The 1st issue is that we knew we would not be living in that house for much longer, and we did not wish to invest money, time, and energy on this garden that we would not be around to harvest and reap the benefits of.  The 2nd issue was our finances.  We did not have money to tear up our yard, buy mulch and seeds, and keep up a healthy garden.  But we still dreamed of someday having a decent-sized farm where we could grow enough organic produce to not only provide for ourselves, but also for needy people who would not otherwise have access to such healthy foods.  And now that we're now Washington State residents and have had lots of time to think about what our dream farm will look like, we now like the idea of not only growing crops, but also having some animals like chickens, goats, and perhaps even sheep and cattle.
But it really just depends on how much acreage we can afford to buy, what the rules are in the area we will live, and what the local market is for things like that.
For example, Washington is known for its apples.  Eastern Washington looks & feels like the Midwest, with open rolling farmland as far as the eye can see.  (And my eyes DID see it when we drove across the country in our moving van!)  So we may or may not grow apples on our farm, since the market may be saturated with them.
Our farm will most likely consist of 1-5 acres, depending on what we can afford.  So yes, it will be a very small venture to say the least!
And we want to live closer to the mountains, (or even in them!) which of course means it will be more difficult to find flat farmland.  But we'll see what we can get.
That is our dream.  What is yours?

image: http://wsm.wsu.edu/discovery/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/2009Aug_farm_stats2.jpg

The New Hand-Made World We Live In

This is a knitted coffee sleeve, designed to protect your hand from the heat of your paper-cupped beverage while being environmentally-friendly and not using one of those little cardboard ones from a coffee shop.  I hand-knit these and have a fairly large inventory of already-made coffee cozies ready to be purchased for the low price of $10 apiece! 
I would describe myself very much as a Beginner knitter, but I am slowly acquiring more skills and becoming more willing to challenge myself and learn new stitches & styles.  I am also thinking about adding cute embellishments like buttons or small pockets (for tea & sugar packets) to the coffee sleeves to set them apart even more. 
I recently knitted my niece a floppy, hot pink winter hat, which turned out wonderfully, and only took me about 2 days of knitting off & on (about 8 hours total), which means I am getting faster and more consistent with the stitches. 
But I forgot to take pictures of the hat, which is such a bummer, because it really was my best work to date.  Maybe I'll have my sis-in-law send me a picture with my niece wearing it, so I can post it here.
Making the hat was a revelation for me, because I had made something that was not only functional (to keep the baby's head warm), but also cute, girly, and stylish, with a bit of creative flair.  I had actually made something worthwhile, that will get used & worn.  How cool is that?  Of course, I (and a select few family members) have been using my knitted coffee sleeves for awhile now, but this hat was different.

Do any of you make hand-made items?  Do you feel the same pride and satisfaction seeing your family use & wear these items like I do?
Knitting is one of those "lost arts" of the good old days,  that are now making a comeback due to a few reasons:  the economic downturn is making folks realize that perhaps they can save money by making things that they used to buy from a store, and the "going green/sustainability" movement that has been spreading across the country in the last few year.  More and more people want to live "off the grid" as much as they can, using less resources, downsizing their homes, consuming less, contributing to landfills less, and growing their own food for health & money sake. 
This generation has re-claimed the slogan "Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle" and lots of people have made a lifestyle out of it.  A similar word, "Upcycle", has taken the internet by storm as well, referring to re-purposing and re-using a used object by giving it another purpose & look as it had in its previous life.  For example, I've seen lots of "how-to" articles on Pinterest lately about how to DIY upcycle a used wine bottle by using a method involving heat and a string, to cut the top off of the bottle, turning it into a unique drinking glass.  There are many things you can do to reduce, reuse, and recycle; and all you need is your imagination!  And maybe the internet.  And some string.