Friday, June 17, 2011

miss me yet? I'll be extending that sabbatical

I've been missing for a bit.  Working on some personal illness issues, and a few other things that have come up.  I'm going to be unplugging for a bit.  It's time for me to slow down again, re-evaluate where I'm at, and how that works with what road I want to be on.

Am I crazy?  Maybe.  I can't imagine not being online.  In fact, I don't even want to promise that I won't be here, facebook, or other blogs next week.  I just feel the need to back away for a bit.  I find myself sucked into the next best thing, every day.  I love all of the information that is out there and I want to implement it all into my life.  But, I've found that I'm "researching" more than I'm sharing.  My bookmarks are out of control, seriously, tasteology is dangerous.  I haven't the slightest idea what to write about for my next addition to even though I've tried many new things since my last article.  I'm might take a break there too.

I feel burnt out.  My eyes hurt.  My brain hurts.  I probably don't remember half of the stuff that I've crammed in my mind over the last week.  But it's all been amazing, I'm sure of it.

Can I do it?  Sure. Will I stick with it?  Hopefully.  If anything, I can re-evaluate what's going on with me and just slow down.

much love -


Sunday, May 22, 2011

a new dinner plan

I've found a new, free menu planning site.  Say Mmm.... is my new go to and it's basic service is FREE!  It has features such as meal planning, creating lists, and recipe organization.  It's really easy to throw everything in one place and be able to print up your shopping list from your menu plan and your recipes-you can even adjust it for what's already in your pantry!  Below is this week's dinner menu plan, which is almost guaranteed to change at a moments notice.  

Sun 5/22Keilbasa, Potato salad, &  rolls
Mon 5/23Rice noodles w/ cabbage, Cilantro, & sprouts
Tue 5/24Egg flower soup &  rice
Wed 5/25Scrambled egg burritos
Thu 5/26Chicken & veggie skewers -stir fry veggies
Fri 5/27Pancakes/pizza - crepes
Sat 5/28Leftovers/new recipe

 and sometime this week I'll start entering my recipes for the above mentioned dinners and have links that you can print from!  Oh, how dreamy and technologically advanced I'm becoming.  I know, I'm a little slow.  Hey, I've got dirt under my nails from digging in the garden -so much more satisfying than seeing my recipes on the internets, but I get asked enough and I do love to share.

Friday, May 6, 2011

I'm a mom. It's what I do.

Kids.  You got ‘em?  I do, just a few.  And one extra.   My kids are a lot like me.  They love to get outside.  They love to get dirty.  They love to see what they can do, how to do it, and how it will affect them and others. 

Sometimes they get distracted.

That’s alright.  I’m there to clean it up.  I’m a mom.  It’s what I do.

Sometimes they forget.

That’s alright.  I’m there to remind them.  I’m a mom.  It’s what I do.

Sometimes they don’t want to do it.

That’s alright.  I’m there to do it for them.  I’m a mom.  It’s what I do.

They love that we can grow our own food.  That we can bake our bread from scratch.  That we can eat as a family for dinner.  They love learning about conserving, reusing, recycling, reducing, sustaining.  Learning is what kids do.  I’m a mom.  It’s what I do.  
happy mother's day friends

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

More of the madness

but I'm making my way back

 natalie very proud of her seeds
 chives doing well after being transplanted in the raised beds
 Calendula and lettuce starts in the new raised beds
 lucy's artwork displayed in the front of the house
 Jaguar at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle
 baby jersey at Dungeness Valley Creamery
lucy & me at preschool

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

we've been busy...

 llama at the Olympic Game Farm 
 Lucy and Natalie's arm
 Mariah, Natalie, Lucy, and Zak ~March 2011
Happy Days!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

my plans for the weekend -what are you doing?

I'm am super excited for the Seattle Tilth Edible Plant sale this Saturday.  I have managed to talk (no pressure) my mom and mother-in-law in to attending with me -both huge plant lovers, like me.  I've been drooling over the plant list for weeks and trying to figure out what I'll be bringing home.  I'm definitely going to have a hard time not bringing one or two of everything home with me!

This weekend we will be celebrating with family.  My son's birthday was yesterday(the 16th) and my eldest daughter's birthday is the 28th.  So, this weekend is when we can coordinate with everyone.  We'll be doing the usual, dinner out, then to my sister's place in North Seattle to enjoy ice cream cake and prezzies.  Then the next day is nothing short of epic.  We are going to the Pacific Science Center to see a special exhibit.... STAR WARS!!!  Everyone in this family is so excited and can hardly wait.

needless to say it has not been the frugalist of weeks for dinners.  We've had take-out pizza, and chinese buffet so far.  Tonight, seeing that it's St. Patrick's Day, we're having a very traditional -although, not special according to the Irish, Irish dinner.  Corned Beef and Cabbage with potatoes and carrots.  I totally cheated and bought my brisket at Costco as a packaged Corned Beef.  But I cut the damn potatoes, carrots, and cabbage myself!  Then, I threw it all in the crockpot.  
Happy St. Patrick's Day my friends!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

missing menu, missing camera, missing my laptop, and missing you.

Better late than never, right?  Friday morning I awoke to a major disappointment.  My laptop was dead.  There is nothing.  I power it on, and it's black.  No noise.  Nothing.  Tears and sad clown faces.  That's how I feel.  So, what is an internet addicted mama supposed to do?  Steal her teenager's laptop.  Mah, she doesn't really need it.  She's at school all day, and when she's home doing homework, I'm usually in the kitchen.  It all works out eh?

I forgot about spring sports starting this week.  Really, I don't know how anyone can stick to menu planning when you have a preteen and teenager that are both in spring sports.  It's a good thing that we have one more year before the littles start spring sports.  I don't know how we'll do it then, but we might be taking some friend's parents up on those ride offers.  For now, we split dinner times.  Kids eat when they can -either before or after practice.

Sunday: leftovers
Monday: leftover sandwiches/pancakes/soup -Nice mashup?  Not all together, but don't put it past us
Tuesday:  Spaghetti
Wednesday:  Quesadillas -chicken/cheese
Thursday:  steamed chicken, brown rice, and broccoli
Friday:  drive-thru :) -heading out of town for the weekend
Saturday: eatin' out
Sunday: eatin' out

The week before last, the kids and I decided to try out a new cookie recipe.  Family Circle's Double Chocolate Cookies um.  Yeah.  These were great to work up with the kids - all four of my crazies helped out.    We made them exactly as the recipe said - no substitutions needed.  And they were great!  They were quick to put together and pretty darn good.  One comment was heard, but it was minor.  The big kids wanted chunks in their cookies.  So next time we make them, we'll definitely leave some of the milk chocolate in bigger pieces.  If you have trouble viewing the recipe link let me know, I have no problem writing it up.  Also, sorry no pictures.  They're on the missing point-&-shoot Nikon.  *sad face*

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wa ha what?

Well, we're going down in a blaze of glory my friends.  First, last fall my laptop crashed for the umpteenth time.  Then, it came back to life after a few months of being idle and me hijacking my teenager's laptop, it miraculously came back to life- and I didn't lose anything!  Now, my little Nikon point-and-shoot has gone and disappeared on me.  Seriously.  I took a couple of blackmail pictures of my sister-in-law, sat it down and it's gone.  We looked everywhere for it and a week later it's still MIA.  Shit.

However, I do have our faithful 2006 Nikon D70 DSLR.  And while it is a lug to pack around, and rather funny to say "oh!  hold that crazy messed up face just a moment longer so I can take this bad boy out".  I still love it.

We had a crazy few days of snow, no snow, more snow, freezing icy snow, rain, then freeze and more snow.  Now.  I declare.  Spring can arrive.  ANY. DAY. NOW.  Really, I miss dirt.  I miss digging in it, picking it out of finger nails and my kids hair.  I want to see green poking through the ground with the hopes of it bringing food to our table.  I can't wait.

Menu monday was a fail.  Two weeks in a row.  I tell you, weather messes me up.  I can sit here and surf the internet and yet I can't focus five frickin' minutes to type up a menu.  Menu Monday will return next week with a vengeance.  Seriously.  Charlie Sheen serious -like.
Speaking of my main batshit crazy man Charlie Sheen, I have to share a couple of links with you.  My favorite crazy, say it like is, cross stitcher over at Subversive Cross Stitch has some frickin' awesome new products listed on her website.  Charlie Sheen quotes.  Yes, she has the PDF's for sale on some rockin' quotes from our favorite rockstar from Mars.  Check them out and MORE here.  So give her a high-five for putting these on paper and sharing with the world.  We all need a little Charlie in our lives and why not have it framed on the wall for all to see.  Enjoy my friends.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

More information to share on URBAN HOMESTEAD(ing)

This was recently posted on a facebook page that I happily support.   This is, for now, the only way I know how to support and share their struggle and others affected by The Dervaes Institute's recent trademarking "scandal".  Please consider supporting the effort or at least help by spreading the word.
many thanks,

URGENT PROPOSAL (1) My wife and I own Denver Urban Homesteading and our Facebook page was shut down by the Dervaes Institute. THIS FB page on which we are communicating could be taken down and as insurance against that we want anyone who is interested in helping to continue our struggle and that of other homesteading groups and authors affected by the Dervaes Institute takedowns to email us now at so we can remain in contact in case we lose this page. (NOTE that this is for storage of emails only and I will not respond. If you need a response from me my email address is below.)

(2) We plan to file a petition to cancel the trademarks of the Dervaes Institute and we want to find others who can simultaneously file petitions. We believe this is necessary because (a) Dervaes Institute is shutting down internet access for us and for others and because (b) if their trademark which is currently registered on the Supplemental Register remains for five years it may become registered on the Principal Register after which time it will nearly impossible to challenge it. According to the US Patent and Trademark Office “A petition for cancellation may be filed by any person who believes that he or she is or will be damaged by the registration of the mark.” Since the Dervaes Institute has stated that anyone using these homesteading terms must acknowledge their trademark, it seems that a petitioner could include anyone. Thus, we would hope to see petitioners fit into the following categories:
(A) Parties who used the terms “urban homesteading” and “urban homestead” commercially prior to the date of the trademarks, which is November 10, 2007.
(B) Parties who used the terms “urban homesteading” and “urban homestead” commercially after the date of the trademarks, which is November 10, 2007.
(C) A nonprofit group of homesteaders to be formed, perhaps here in Colorado, perhaps elsewhere, that would include any person who believes that he or she is or will be damaged by the registration of the mark.

I have been an attorney for more than 25 years, although currently I do not make a living practicing law - I run an urban homesteading center! If other attorneys show up and want to help, that will be great. While I will represent my company, other attorneys could represent other parties. I will make my filings available to all.

(3) I understand that some people are interested in helping contribute so we will set up a paypal account to receive funds in my attorney escrow account or the account of a nonprofit corporation that I will use to pay for the costs or expenses of the legal filings pro-rata with any others filing concurrently and any excess to be used as directed by the nonprofit.

Any comments, suggestions or other proposals are welcome. My wife and I – indeed the entire City of Denver, Colorado – have a lot to lose if we are unable to refer to our business as one that promotes urban homesteading.

James and Irina Bertini
Denver Urban Homesteading
200 Santa Fe Drive
Denver, CO 80223

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I was an urban homesteader at the ripe ol' age of 9.  I built my first veggie garden to prove that I could grow one.  I begged my parents to help me out.  We tilled up the yard in the backyard, they helped me build up my raised garden, because after all, our neighborhood was built on an old arsenic site.  I grew veggies, I shared my veggies, and I even sold some of those veggies.  I had rabbits for many years.  I even tried my hand at chickens and ducks only to have to give them up because of city ordinances at the time.  All before 1985.

I was an urban homesteader.  I am still an urban homesteader, even though my urban homestead is located in a very rural community.  I live in a community with an homeowner's association, with strict rules.  I homestead my .66 acres like there is no tomorrow.  I will stick up for my fellow homesteaders, whether they are rural or URBAN.  Why?  Because I was an URBAN HOMESTEADER long before someone decided that they needed trademark the term.  Claim it for themselves, claim they were saving it from big companies.  Saving it for the true homesteaders.  Yet, anyone who uses the word or phrases must refer back to the them.  And they must state that it is a trademarked phrase.  You can't trademark a lifestyle.   And you can't trademark mine.  I AM AN URBAN HOMESTEADER!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's day! and a Monday Menu

Well, we had a successful Valentine's Day at the Cross compound.  The festivities started last Thursday with Lucy's preschool party -and while she had been counting the days until her party, I believe she was a far from impressed with how it turned out.  For one thing she was under the impression the Valentine's Day party would focus on her, not the other six kids in her class too.  And secondly, she thought that it would continue on forever.  She felt that EVERY DAY should be Valentine's day.  Bring on the chocolate!

Today was Natalie's preschool party, as it should be, on Valentine's Day.  I must say, since when did Valentine's Day cards/candies turn in to full blown gift/swag bags???  Hello, a four year old does not need, nor should anyone receive this much candy.  I'm trying to get away with a few chocolates and an itunes card at home and you all are sending full size candy bars, toys, baskets, jewelry, spa days and Starbucks gift cards home with my kid(okay, slight exaggeration there at the end), but seriously, how can I compete with that?  Oh, and guess what the camera battery died.  Who knows when, but obviously sometime after Lucy's party -it was probably shocked by all the shit they received.

Tonight we take it easy, and will not be eating the traditional Valentine's day grub for dinner.  We won't be indulging in filet mignon, baked lemon herb crusted salmon, or even heart shaped pizzas.  Nope, it's our Meatless Monday night and so we are having a giant delicious SALAD!  Hmmm.... hear my heart singing?  Yep, really it's singing, and those are tears of joy, not sadness.

As for the menu... here goes

Monday: Big ass salad!

Tuesday:  Ham & Cheese Panini's and soup

Wednesday:  Chicken Quesadillas & salada

Thursday:  Lasagna & salad

Friday:  Pizza or Pancakes

Saturday: eating out with family -we'll be out of town through Monday :)

Peace and love my friends.  Lots of dancing hearts -with hoola hoops.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I'm calling it Menu Monday

because I don't have anything better.  

It's been a couple of weeks since I've posted and I'm getting back into the groove of things.  Not quite what I used to be, but closer.  My nasty, quick wit is still lagging.  I blame the multitude of experimental PRESCRIPTION drugs I've been on over the last year.  But I believe we've (my doctor and myself -I've haven't been diagnosed as having multiple personality disorder yet) finally found something that works good with the lupus, fibromyalgia, and alopecia that doesn't totally fuck me up.  *Insert huge fake smile here*

The hubs and I took our first trip together, sans children, last weekend.  I'll repeat that.  Sans children, and by that I mean ALONE.  It.  Was.  Fabulous.  And even though we never slept in, we didn't stay up late, and we called to check on the littles several times, we enjoyed ourselves so much.  We definitely needed the time away together.  We ate fantastic food.  Discovered cool, moody coffee shops.  And in China Town, found out that there was more than chicken and pig on the menu.  Dog.  Barbecued, strung up, and ready to eat in hanging up in the window of a bakery.  Um....yum?  

We've already planned and booked our return trip for the end of April and this time we're bring all the kids.  Yikes.

This week's menu will be a lot of the usual suspects:  no imagination here

Monday: Salad day!  Lots of green to recover from football food

Tuesday: Chicken noodle and grilled cheese sandwiches

Wednesday: Spaghetti, bread, and salad

Thursday: Broccoli Beef over rice

Friday:  Homemade pancakes

Saturday: Leftovers or new recipe night

Sunday: crockpot beef, potatoes, and veggies

That's it!  If there's a recipe that you'd like to have and can't find it on a search -I'm working on getting this organized- just send me a message, I'd love to share!

You all have a fabulous week!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

menus and why we plan

We're sitting here watching football.  Yes, we watch football occasionally.  Me?  Not so much.  I'll sit here and pretend like I'm into it, I'll snack on the mass amounts of football food that I've prepared, and I'll surf the internet, because really anything on the internet is more interesting than football on Canadian television.  Today, I was bad.  I went with prepared food.  We were at Costco and I couldn't help but think of the things that I could be doing, rather than sitting in the kitchen slaving away over greasy, fatty, stomach turning football food.  So, I picked up and heated up some Hum bao, vegetable spring rolls.  Set out a plate of crackers, warmed pita,  and Spinach Artichoke Parmesan dip.  Mixed up some salmon and mayo.  Opened a couple of bags of chips and called it good.  Oh, and "football" food isn't complete without a Corona.  Personally, I would have paired this all with a Session, but I'm not into football and the man get his choice today.

I've been picking away at weekly dinner menus and probably next month I'll line it up for a few months like I usually do.  But for now, I will lay out what we had last week for ya, and then throw together the upcoming week's menu.  I found that with planning our menus out, I make fewer trips to the grocery store and I don't have that last minute panic attack over what to cook for the gang.  So not only is it going to help save money, but your sanity as well.

I usually have the kids (yes, all four of them) write out (the youngin's with the help of the older kids) their top seven favorite dinners to have at home.  I then mark off the repeats and work out a menu for the week with what we already have on hand.  Checking the refrigerator and freezers to make sure that we have enough to accommodate a meal or more.  I like to make extra for lunch for the next day, but it doesn't always work out that way.  Usually, someone finishes it off by the end of the night.  We rarely deal with leftovers, and if we do, it's gone within a few days.

Last weeks menu:

Monday:  Chicken vegetable stir fry over rice
Tuesday:  Crockpot shredded beef sandwiches
Wednesday:  Spaghetti
Thursday:  Hamburgers & salad
Friday:  Pizza
Saturday: Mashed potatoes, ground beef gravy, steamed broccoli with mizithrah cheese

This coming weeks' menu:

Sunday: Leftover hangover from football food
Monday:  taco salads
Tuesday:  grilled cheese sandwiches & tomato soup
Wednesday: Beef enchiladas
Thursday:  Tuna noodle casserole
Friday:  Children will fend for themselves.  Gma & Gpa will feed them, 'cause me & the hubs are heading to Victoria, BC ALONE.  For the weekend!

Crockpot shredded beef sammies

A quickie and simple dinner idea is the Crockpot shredded beef sandwiches.  I take a frozen beef pot roast.  sear the sides of it in a cast iron fry pan.  I then sprinkle it with salt and pepper and douse it with worcester sauce.  When the outsides of the roast have a nice crisp brown to it, remove and put in the crockpot.

I then add some onion (dried or fresh chopped), more worcester sauce, and a package of (dare I say it's processed) au jus gravy mix.  Yep, I do keep this on hand.  The flavor is one that I haven't been able to reproduce and we all just love it so much.... sorry.  Add a cup of water and close that puppy up, set it to low for at least six hours.  The aroma that is about to fill your home is mouthwatering and coma inducing.  Come dinner time the family is practically climbing the walls and I have to slap their fingers/hands to keep them from tasting too early.  Here is where I like to remind my husband how much I like jewely, his eyes are always glazed over and he nods his head a lot.  I think bits and pieces get through, but time will tell.

I pull it out and put it on a plate to sit for about 20 minutes before shredding it up with a fork.  I put out hoagie rolls, mayo, worcester, and A1 sauce.  I personally only need mayo on my hoagie.  A delicious side to go with this and on your hoagie is COLESLAW!  I have yet to find the perfect recipe, so if you have a favorite, send it my way.  But I definitely love the crunch that goes along with my sandwich.  YUM!

Here is where I lack in my commitment.... I always forget to take pictures of the finished product.  I will I promise.  It's a favorite here so I have many more opportunities.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

a rambling, outright, nonsense post filled with fantastic information

BTW.... there are no pictures in this post.  gasp.

I had given myself a break from blogging, baking, and all around domestic duties for a couple of weeks now, and it has been pointed out to me that I better get my ass in gear before it all takes on a mind of its own.

Over the break I baked many dozens of my infamous cinnamon rolls.  I made mucho amounts of no bake cookies -aka Gramma Lamb-a-Ding-Dong's Oatmeal Fudgies -recipe to come.  Not to mention secret recipe banana bread and lemon poppyseed loaves of bread for gifts.  My husband even got involved and prepared many loaves of his buried family secret Cardamom Bread -to.die.for.  Really.  So, now that we have finally come off of our sugar high, it's time to get back to work.  Woo hoo!

As I type this up, I am munching on a simple snack.  Simple.  Cheese, crackers, and apple slices.  I bake and cook up crazy amounts of food, some that take all day.  And yet, we are eating cheese, crackers, and apple slices.  It really is amazing how the simple things are most satisfying.  Keep your Diet Real has some fantastic ideas on simple, good for you snacks.  I worked up a quick easy dinner menu for this week, so I'll have that at the end of this post as well as a new recipe, because I love you.  Really.  Deep, I know.

Now that my husband and I are finished with our downstairs remodel, we have been going through things that just don't have a place anymore.  For some reason I want to hold on to things that I feel would have a purpose in the future.  I'm not up for the next episode of Hoarders or anything that extreme, and I most certainly don't have any problem throwing things out -unless, I feel that it could be recycled by us or someone else.  I'm a huge fan of Craigslist and Freecycle - I use both sites almost weekly, but as much as I send out I also bring home.  I might send out a bag of infant toys only to replace them with a bag of Barbies for the little girls or a few cookies sheets for the kitchen.  Needless to say, I've got several bags, boxes, bins to go through in the garage and I'm dragging my feet.  No reason other than I've been putting these particular ones off for quite awhile.  They are the little girls' outgrown clothes and shoes.  Yes, I still hold out hope that we might actually be able to add on to this family even more someday.  I've taken step one and that was load three bags of clothes into the back of the van for donation.  Next is going through the shoes.  Baby steps I tell ya, baby steps.

Have you ever rolled a hula hoop across your waist?  Not, with your kids' Walmart hoop.  A seriously large, purpose made hula hoop?  I can now check it off my list.  My husband bought me my first hoop for Christmas.  I ordered it from Hoop Mama on  A customized 40 inch, collapsible, Happy Hippie.  The day it arrived I stalked our mail lady.  When she pulled up the house, I could see it in the back.  As she walked up giggling, she said that she had to fight everyone off because they all wanted to give a spin before she delivered it.  I was so excited.  I unwrapped the bubble wrap and tape and place it on my hips to give it a whirl.  That fucker fell to the floor.  I picked it up and whipped it again.  Floor.  What was I doing wrong?  I got on the internet and brought up many of my favorite sites.  First Hoop City, I watched a few videos.  Not much help.  Then, Hoopaholics.  Yikes, I was beginning to think I was in serious trouble.  I kept at it.  Then my big kids got home and had to try it out.  Sure as fuck they got it right off the bat.  I started to think that I got the wrong size or that I just wasn't cut out for it.  Then I remembered a couple of blogs that got me hooked in the first place.  Sara over at the Happy Hoop and Rebecca over at Hoopenanigans.  They both had posted about their earlier experiences and it gave me that little bit of confidence that I needed.  I know I'm not going to be doing any isolations or shoulder rolls anytime soon, but if I could just get the core going, then I'd be happy with that.

I did it.  It was awesome.  Now I can keep it up and move it up and down from my waist to my chest with little effort and it's only been just over a week.  I think I'll be just fine with daily practice and when spring arrives we'll move it outside.  yes.

Oddly enough, I made this:  Top 50 Urban Farming blogs from Masters in Public Health.  I thank you and graciously accept my place on your Top 50.  I have been placed among the best.  *bows and dips head*

Our dinner menu this week is very simple and quite honestly if you can't come up with six days worth of dinner meals on your own, you are better off eating out.

Sunday: Hamburgers & green salad

Monday: Broccoli Beef with rice

Tuesday: Soup & Salad

Wednesday: Tuna noodle casserole

Thursday: Buttermilk pancakes

Friday: Pizza -either homemade or Costco :)

And now without further adieu.....

Grandma Lamb-a-ding-dong's oatmeal fudgies

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup margarine (I use butter)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used hershey's baking cocoa)

Combine in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Boil for a 2 minutes then remove from burner and add:

2/3 cup peanut butter (I use chunky, cause I can)
1 tsp. vanilla (please don't use imitation, you're so much better than that)
3 cups rolled oats (not instant -sick)

Stir it up all together and drop by the spoonful (or 2 tablespoonfuls) onto a preppped cookie sheet -greased, wax paper, parchment paper, silpat, what have ya- and chill until set.

Simple. Delish. Gone.

much loves, tory