Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The results are in!

At the Mt. Pisgah Mushroom Festival the PC Alice in Wonderland caterpillar scarecrow won the prize for "most beautiful". There were 30ish entries and 4 other prize categories ie: "funniest", "best kid entry", etc. I'm not sure what the prize is yet, last year it was a family membership to the Museum of Natural History which PC donated back to the school as part of our auction basket. So, yeah us! Go PC, go PC, it's your birthday...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

PC does some PR at the Mushoom Fest

So, we live in a Hippie sort of town. You might have guess that from the blog title. Well, you wouldn't be surprised to hear that we have Hippie kinds of festivals here. And what's more Hippie than a 'shroom fest?

It's out at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum. Every time I say that I can hear my cousin, Bobby, in my head in his little boy voice saying "you said pis-gah! *giggle*". Of course, Bobby is now 20 something and taller than me. But he probably still likes words like pisgah and pantyhose. My family is crazy like that.

This mushroom festival, a addition to being a groovy good time, has a scarecrow contest. Last year the Eugene Waldorf School Parent Council took 1st prize. Will we do it again? Only time will tell. Ask me tomorrow. Regardless of win or lose however, the exposure for the school is all good, and we parents enjoy tickling our creative side with some nature sculpting.

Our theme for the scarecrow was Alice in Wonderland's caterpillar. Like this one:

Or, since the school promotes a tv free lifestyle, probably more like this one:

How do you make a giant mushroom scarecrow? I had no idea. Fortunately, the entire population at the school seems to be made up of those far more artistic than I could ever hope to be, and there was no shortage of ideas. First, get some natural materials. Or as Carolyn said "Bring nature, just bring a bunch of nature. And be there at 10:00!" I brought evergreen boughs and a garbage bag full of red leaves. This photo of someone else's contribution is much prettier than my black plastic bag and cracked laundry basket of stuff was:

Supplies also needed: a giant U of O umbrella (no other kind will do!), wire fencing, hay bales and a jumbo roll of chicken wire.

Set small children to work stuffing frame with leaves. Next use florist's and chicken wire to sculpt a caterpillar frame:

Here's the work in progress. Stem of mushroom has been stuffed, top is getting filled, painstakingly, with red leaves (we made an amanita, aka death angel, mushroom. Don't try to eat it!).

Here are some old ladies workin' on the caterpillar. Notice I'm the only one wearing gloves. Yes, they all laughed at me about it. But hey, I was the one who ended up doing the prickly work with the spruce branches and cut wire ends!

So, wonder where did all those kids ran off to? What do Waldorf hippie kids do when their parents are otherwise engaged? Climb stuff. Build forts. The usual. There was also a giant hay pile the little boys enjoyed rolling and wrestling in.

Behold, the finished scarecrow! And some of the folks who worked on it.

BTW, of course we couldn't give our 'pillar a hookah! We'd have no problem finding one in this town, but we'd be in a wee bit of trouble come Monday for putting a hookah on the school's project. So, what to do? Well, since it was a Waldorf caterpillar - what would it most likely be doing up on his 'shroomy home? Knitting. Of course!

Here it is, in all it's glory. EWS scarecrow #27

Here's some of our competition. Cross your fingers that we win, or better yet - head out to Mt. Pisgah yourself and vote for the PC!

Boo! at the UU

I took Maisie to the Unitarian Universalist Church Halloween party last night. I would have taken Julia too but she'd already weaseled herself an invite from her friend and called Dave at home (sick) to get me to bring her costume to school. That way she could just go directly with all the bffs to said friend's house after school to prefunk, 4th grade style, before the par-tay. Fourth graders are just cool like that, ya know. Super hip.

Anyway, the party was pretty fun for the kiddos. There were cake walks, games, a haunted hike, craft projects, fortune telling and donut eating. Here's a bowling, witchy Roo:
Madame Zolankja will read your cards, for a small fee. (your soul. Buhwaw-ha-ha!)
Do clowns dress up as laser physicists for Halloween?
Julia goes into sugar induced coma:
Maisie has the opposite reaction:
Donut eaters gobble dangling delicacies. How fast can you eat suspended food?
A good time was had by all. Julia and the bffs headed over to yet another friend's house for a slumber party (not mine this time - yippie!) and Maisie and I went home. Maisie was not bummed out by her lack of slumber partying because she won a door prize. Ooh, ahh! What was in the selection of fabulous door prize at the UU Halloween party? A gel like plastic spiky dog collar full of blinky LED lights. Jealous much?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Baking day!

I spent about 4 hours standing in my kitchen yesterday afternoon. It was one of those cozy fall days when cooking doesn't seem to be a chore and the kids and Dave are happily busy with their own pursuits elsewhere in the house. I made myself a cup of coconut chai, turned on some Dave Matthew for motivation and got to work.

First up, Dave's promised chicken pie. This is the ultimate fall comfort food for me, my Mom used to make this occasionally from a recipe in a giant plastic olive green 1970's recipe file. It goes well with the mashed potatoes that I made Friday and thought were still left over. No such luck, Dave ate them on Saturday when I was up at Swallowtail Waldorf School's Fall Harvest Festival with some crafty friends who had a vendor's booth. The loss of the potatoes was worth the chance to get away with the girl friends and hang out in the late fall sunshine. Of course, I didn't realize the potatoes were gone until I was 20 minutes away from dinner so rather than make more, we had the last of the (frozen since July) peas from my garden. Note to self: next year, plant more.

Bonus points to anyone (besides Jen) who knows whose famous logo is on the pie!

Second up, Maisie's favorite pumpkin muffins. There has been a pumpkin shortage this year and canned pumpkin has been hard to find. I've looked for weeks and found nothing. Now I could sacrifice some of the pumpkins from my garden to the muffins, but I only managed to get 5 this year (well 6, but some animal gobbled one when we were on vacation this summer). Also, I am lazy. What to do? Ask Dave. He heard me griping about the lack of canned pumpkin and Maisie asking for me to make her muffins and took matters into his own hands. The result? Two jumbo cans of Libby's Pumpkin mix. Pumpkin deficit problem solved. Pumpkin excess problem created. Long story short, here's Rooster's favorite pumpkin muffin recipe. People are always asking me for GF recipes (stop laughing, Amy!). This one's gluten, dairy, soy and (provided you use the right brand of xanthan gum) corn free. You can make it egg free by using this: http://www.ener-g.com/store/detail.aspx?section=8&cat=8&id=97. I swiped this recipe from celiac.com but had to change it up since it was not dairy free and included "pumpkin spice" as an ingredient. Pumpkin spice? Even I'm not that lazy.
Size comparison mixer vs. can of pumpkin. Ignore the cluttered counter. I do.

Rooster Muffins:
2 cups gluten free flour. Bob's Red Mill works nice. Authentic Foods' flours are better, IMO, but I have to order them. No one in this town carries it.
1 tsp xanthan gum.
1 giant scoop of pumpkin from a huge can (probably about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
1/3 cups coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil will have a coconut flavor. Regular oil will be coconut flavor free.
1 c water or dairy free milk of some kind.
Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Dairy and soy free. Thank you, Enjoy Life!

Throw it all together. Stir it up. Add more flour or liquid if it's not just right. Use one of these things for greasing the muffin tins from William's Sonoma since you can't get store bought cooking spray without soy or gluten: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/sku9278516/?pkey=x%7C4%7C2%7C%7C4%7Coil%7C%7C0&cm_src=SCH. It's only $15 and worth every penny. Cook at 350 until they look nice and golden on top. I like mini muffins since they are more easily stuffed into Rooster's mouth and less likely to become a pile of crumbs. And they cook faster. Mini muffin tins were are fad thing for a while and now you can find them at the thrift store fairly often.

Now it was about this time in my baking afternoon I realized I was out of potatoes. And then Dave can sniffing into the kitchen dropping not so subtle hints about the possibility of a pumpkin pie for dessert. Fine. Only 1 veggie served with dinner will be okay if we have 1 for dessert, right?

Does anyone remember the year Libby's didn't put their pie recipe on the can of pumpkin? I do. It was 1980-something and my Mom was dumbfounded for about 20 minutes trying to come up with a Thanksgiving plan B. Hmm, I wonder if that was the same year the cats knocked the stuffing off the counter? Ah, memories...

Don't you love my square pies? I broke my pie plate this spring in a fit of PMS induced clumsiness and the replacement Dave and the girls bought for my birthday from a local Saturday Market artist broke in the oven while it was baking a blueberry pie. The replacement's replacement (surely it was just a fluke, right?) broke a few weeks ago baking a cherry pie. It was not a good day in my house. Now the artist is MIA from Saturday Market and I have no pie plate. Oh well, square pies in Corningware taste just as good.
Now, who's going to come do the dishes?

Friday, October 16, 2009

How to Freak Out Your Conventional Husband in 5 Easy Steps:

Step 1. Eat a chicken for dinner. Not chicken breasts out of the styrofoam package but a real, dead bird. With it's neck chopped off and stuffed down it's hollowed out abdomen. Along with other nasty unidentifiable parts. (Really, I'm a science dork and I can identify the liver and heart, but what's the rest of that junk?) Conventional Husband will be mildly concerned by the unusual presentation, but placated when served a nice slice of white breast meat. Especially if Norma's famous mashed potatoes are one of the distractingly delicious side dishes.

Step 2. Pick all meat off cooled chicken carcass. Even the meat off the back, legs, wings and other non-boobie parts. Some of it will be stained by the bones and some other pieces will have to be separated from slimy fat and sinewy bits. Conventional Husband will look a little squeamish at this point, rush through doing the dishes and retreat hastily to the living room with laptop.

Step 3. Chat with girlfriend on the phone. Drop words like "and the cartilage too?" and "what about skin and fat?" Make loud banging noises while removing infrequently used things from the back of the cabinets.

Step 4. Set large cauldron of bubbling bones on the back burner. Act like nothing unusual is going on. But don't emerge from the kitchen. Anxious Husband is sure to lose to curiosity and impatience and come investigate. Admire the horrified look when he discovers this steaming, rolling, boiling science experiment. Giggle when he says "I'm not eating that!".

Step 5. Just when the coast looks clear start new even weirder project. Use the blender and cheese grater. To the fearful question "What are you doing now?" Answer: "Oh, just making homemade laundry soap...". Do not be surprised when there is no reply. Conventional husband will be silent for the rest of the evening and go to bed early.

Congrats! Now you not only have a free evening to blog, facebook and surf the net to your heart's content, you also have (free!) chicken stock and the world's best, cheapest laundry soap.

And don't worry, Conventional Husband will make a complete, well rested recovery when his empty laundry basket magically transforms into a mountain of clean clothes and a chicken pie appears on tomorrow's dinner table.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The difference between boys and girls-

When I send the girls to clean their rooms they either sit in there and wail about how it's "tooo-o messy/hard/boring" and they'll never be done -or- they just go in there, sit amongst the clutter and start up a new game of pretend with what ever assorted junk happens to be out.

Now the Y chromosome seems to prevent all of that from happening. Send a boy (or man for that matter) to clean a room. Tell them they can have dessert when they are done. What happens? Five minutes later they come running back - done. Why? Because they are smart enough to figure out how to do a 1/2 assed job and make it look good. Even at age 4. Throw it under the bed, hide it behind the door, pile it up in a big lump on the shelf. Out of sight, out of mind. Done. Tate can clean his room at light speed. It'll serve him well. And drive his wife absolutely crazy.

Where ya' been?

I haven't had much to say here this week. Why? I've been in the middle of some ugly bs and had flames coming out of my ears. It's not been pretty. I've been trying to keep my mouth shut. Not an easy task. I was at a meeting last night and knitting in order to stay quiet. My stitches got tighter and tighter until my needles started squeaking. It was nice to have a giggle about that in the middle of a tense situation.

Without further ado, however, here's what we've been up to:

Maisie came in this weekend clutching a handful of grapes: "Mom, look what I found!". Yup, there is a grape vine behind the climber between our house and the neighbor's. I thought it must belong on the other side of the fence and had just sent some runners over to our side, but it turns out it's ours. Huh. Who'd have thunk it? We certainly didn't notice it last year, but someone must have planted the grapes - there is a post that looks like it might have been part of the vine support at one time. Now the vine goes across the fence, through blackberries and ivy and up into the neighbor's cherry tree. We were able to haul the ladder over, through the St, John's wort and brambles and harvest a large basket worth of organic (no one's touched the vine in years - it's certainly pesticide and herbicide free), yummy grapes.

Can you see the grapevine? Can you even say "grapevine" without your feet wanting to do a "grapevine"?

No? How about now?

And lookie what's in the cherry tree!

Also this weekend, the girls got their ears pierced. Maisie chose ruby studs, since her birthday is in July and she played a character in her class play last year named "Ruby".

It's not a very good picture, Maisie doesn't photograph well when asked to pose. She either looks like she's pissed off or like a total cheese ball (dairy free cheese, of course).

Here's Julia. She wanted little flowers made from pink and white jewels.

And she's been a victim of demonic possession. Don't look at the red glowing eyes!!! You'll be blinded and under her spell! Of course, a Julia spell would be something along the lines of (put your Transylvainian accent on here) "you will buy me every Littlest Pet Shop ever made, buhwah, ah, ah, ah!".

Here's a snippet of how to tell your child goes to Waldorf school. They do this to their brother's trucks:

Yup. Trucks covered in gnomes, silks and woven fairy crowns. (Hmm, that's the second "yup" in this post. Time to buy a thesaurus.)

Lastly here's some Oregon fall colors for you:

Shooting stars and dogwood putting on a show. (You can click the pictures and make them huge, FYI.)
Alright that's it for now. I'm off to pick up my bridesmaid's dress - yup, (hey, there's that word again!) I get to be a bridesmaid! Alison won't let me be the flowergirl. :( And then I need to deliver some chick music and a crayon color bracelet to a pregnant friend who, after we read her cards at Tea and Tarot yesterday, was discovered to be too low in yin and in need of some feminine energy. (Just when you thought this was going to be a normal blog entry! Ha - welcome to my Hippietown life!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Funny, funny, funny.

I love this internet film. If you have not seen Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, come out from the rock you've been under and watch it. It's 42 minutes of spoofy fun. Of course, I'm partial to evil geniuses ever since Maisie decided she wanted to be one when she grew up. And I love musicals. And funny movies. Just watch it already! It's free. Have a Horrible day!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nana moment

My Nana is ... Well, how to explain her? She's my Mom's Mom, and the matriarch of a whole lot of wacky people. My family, on my Mother's side, cultivates eccentricity like an heirloom tomato patch. We love the uniqueness of little kids enthralled with heating and cooling systems and adults who are slightly off step with the rest of the known universe. My Great Aunt Lois is has been gone for many, many years yet my kids holler her famous: "Don't raise the bridge, lower the water!" when we come to draw bridge. Some things we do and say without even remembering who the original nut was who coined the phrase. Sometimes we don't even realize that no one else has any idea what we're talking about.

My favorite Nana memory is from when I was about 7 or 8. We had pulled off the highway at a very windy viewpoint, admired the view for a while and then Nana wondered allowed "I wonder how far we could spit?". Turns out you can spit a long way with the wind at your back. Nana introduced me to Alfred Hitchcock movies, took us to Six Flags and patiently waited until we got our fill of rides and junk food. She bought us fancy dolls from Macy's or Rich's every summer which we lovingly named "Georgia dolls" but which never survived long once they returned to Washington State with us. Nana ran over my sister's fire engine red American Tourister suitcase with her Buick. Nana had a house crammed so full of knicknacks and doo-dads that you couldn't turn around without knocking something over ("oh, so-and-so gave me that when we went to...") they probably had to open a new Goodwill to hold them all when she moved into a retirement home.

I had some folks over the other day and as I was stuffing the breakfast dishes frantically out of sight in the dishwasher, I was overcome with the need to unearth my 1/2 (my sister, Jen, got the other 1/2) of one of Nana's sets of dishes. She had regular "everyday" dishes and 3 or 4 sets of fine china. (The South, you know requires multiple types of dishes to be on hand at all times for DAR and Junior League emergencies.) They've been packed up for years first in a storage shed in Tryon, NC. Then in my garage, first in Seattle, then in the first rental house we had here. They were ready to come out. So here's my little bit of Nana-ness. Nana's Blue Willow china. I just added it to the stacks of my china, a Villeroy and Boch pattern if you were wondering, which makes the cupboard fairly crowded but solves the problem of weekend sleepovers when we run out of bowls or plates.

Check out my groovy, original 1960's counter tops! Jen, you must have the cream pitcher - I just have the sugar bowl. (My Mom had a boyfriend her siblings refered to as "Sugar Bowl" due to the unfortunate size of his ears. Just saying "Sugar Bowl" makes me giggle.) Right now I'm eating crackers and cheese on a Blue Willow plate. A little bit of Whiteoak (that's the name of my Grandparents' house) makes every day a little nicer.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Halloween - Hippie Style! (or not)

How to drive your Mother crazy:
Have her scrimp and save, work 2 jobs and give up all hope at ever having a vacation/maid/desperately needed therapy so she can send you to the media-free, protection of childhood determined Hippie School. Then ignore all the creative thinking, media-freeness and request to be a *gasp* tv or movie character for Halloween. And explain that you DO want to go the school Halloween party. Could it be worse?

Well, really it was not so different last year. Julia asked to be this:

It involved a long search for black fur in a town sold out and made my sewing room look like a cat exploded, but it was not too hard to make and a perfectly Waldorf acceptable choice. Julia's 2 friends showed up at school as Laura and Mary Ingalls and Julia got to be their cat "Black Susan" (re-read Little House in the Big Woods for the reference).

Maisie asked to be a turtle. How does one make a turtle costume? This is the best I could figure out:

And then there's Tate. Little Mr. WalMart special. No one said anything at school, but we got some good looks. It made me laugh, I felt like I needed a sign "my tuition = money wasted". Or a Mastercard commercial:

Cheap-ass Walmart costume - $20
Face paint set: $10
Tuition to ultra media un-friendly school: $15,000
Showing up at the school Halloween party as Spiderman: PRICELESS

So this year the kids had until Oct 1st to decide what they wanted to be. There would be no frantic searches for the last scraps of black fur or frustration trying to last minute a turtle costume. There was a lot of discussion and mind changing but the decision is now made. Julia wants to match her bff who is going to be Dorothy. Julia originally wanted to be Toto, but switched to Glinda the Good Witch when I started twitching at the thought of buying more fur. She's a smart girl. Here's the start of her costume. Ebay search for "pink pageant dress":

I'll have to trick it out with some silver sparkly skirt bling and make a crown and scepter. I can handle that. Not too complicated. So far, so good.

Tate wants to, again, be a cheap WalMart costume character. Fine. Meet Anakin Skywalker:

Tate did not understand why Maisie and I were rolling on the floor giggling hysterically at him. That mask is so ridiculously real, it's a trip. And Tate's voice coming out of Anakin's face is something else. "Hey Mom, I can't pick my nose when I'm in a mask!"

And Maisie? I'll give you a hint - this is what we bought today:
Any ideas? Okay, another hint. She didn't want Tate to "be alone" and decided against being a baby (thank goodness - I did not want to try to sew footed baby pjs. I know I could buy them in her size, but then they'd be flame retardant. Or as one of the famous crazy Gymboree customers told Sarah: "they're poisonous!"). No idea?
Here ya go:

R2D2 or Roo2D2 since it's to be Maisie, the Rooster's, costume. I think (knock wood) I can pull off a decent costume with paint, foil, cardboard and a little luck (also known as "google"). Will we go to the school party dressed in our media-centric finery? Will we wilt under the pressure to conform? Maybe. Maybe not. I'll let you know. And we'll have fun regardless.