Friday, September 24, 2010

I have been visiting my darling daughter and her family since Sunday.  I am blessed to be able to visit my daughter every three months and this visit was for her 34th birthday!  On Monday morning after taking my granddaughter to Kindergarten we had "Coffee Morning" with three of my daughter's closest neighbor friends.  How fun was that?!!!  After picking my granddaughter up from Kindergarten we ate Teriyaki Tofu at a little hole-in-the-wall place and it was yummy, yummy, yummy!!! After shopping for the day we met my son-in-law at Macaroni Grill for my daughter's birthday dinner.  What a day!!! My son-in-law surprised his lovely wife with an iPad for her birthday!!!

My daughter's dad and step-mom decided to come to celebrate her birthday at the same time so we were all here together.  I thought it would be awkward  and was a little nervous but it was totally okay.  My ex-husband was on his best behavior (he is quite a joker and often times at another's expense); his wife and I have always gotten along just fine.  And I just spent lots of time cooking to keep myself out of trouble--lasagna, strawberry shortcake, apple pie.  When my daughter gets stressed she cleans; when I get stressed I cook!

My granddaughter loved having me go to her classroom on Monday & Tuesday.  Then Wednesday she got to show off her other grandparents at school.  She also got to be the center of attention for three doting grandparents for almost two days.  What more could a five year old want?!!!  The highlight was Wednesday night when my precious granddaughter lost her first tooth!  And I got to be the one to pull it!  Actually the tooth practically fell out in my hand but since I technically pulled it she said, "You are the BEST Gramma EVER!!!  How great is that?!!

Yesterday I crafted with my daughter's next door neighbor for a couple of hours.  We made a couple of really cute projects which I will post pictures of at another time.

Today I am heading home--long drive!  I love to visit and get teary when I have to leave but all good things must come to an end:(  Time to let their little family get back to normal!

Have a great day and a super weekend!  Kat

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Skinner's Fractured Off-Grid Tales

Be careful what you ask for!  I told my sweet hubby I wanted to write a post about our off-grid solar system so would like some not-too-technical info to share with my readers.  Well, he gave the info I needed but also had some titles to share as well--the title I used is one of his and comes from his love of Bullwinkle.  His alternate titles were just as interesting--you vote for your favorite...
  1. Skinner's Solar Soliloquy
  2. Skinner's 3 Blades to the Wind
  3. Are Skinner's Holding Back Their Wind?
See what I mean?  I'm anxious to hear which one is your favorite!!!

About 17 years ago we purchased a piece of property in the middle of nowhere!  It had nothing on it so we were literally starting from scratch.  My darling husband wanted to have an off-grid electrical system--his new hobby.  I said it was fine with me as long as I could use my hair dryer and curling iron every morning:)  We started by building a small brick building and purchasing a 12 kW diesel generator.  Then he began to build the system from there.  Since it has been so many years, I don't remember the exact order of things but now our electrical system consists of:
  1. 2220 watts solar on two pole mounted arrays, one is a WattSun Tracker
  2. Two Trace SW4048 inverters
  3. Skystream 3.7 Wind Power Appliance (our windmill or wind generator)
  4. 48 Volt battery storage with 1,200 Ah capacity 
  5. 12 kW Diesel Generator
  6. High Efficiency Grundfos SQFlex submersible water pump
It has been an interesting journey learning to use lots of power when we have a lot available, working our way through several test windmills, finding the best electrical appliances to work with our system, etc.  I have a regular refrigerator, dishwasher and washing machine.  We use propane for the kitchen range, hot water and dryer.  We use the florescent "twirly" bulbs in all of our lights. Our house is well insulated and heated with a wood stove.  Most people who visit are not even aware we are using off-grid electricity because everything works together so well. We may add some more solar panels in the future to run an air conditioner but only really need one for about two weeks a year.  One of our best investments was the Grundfos submersible water pump which pumps off power received from the solar panels and the windmill--seldom have to use the diesel generator.  

About three years ago my husband started designing and selling alternative energy systems for Seraphim Electric which was purchased about a year ago by Hire Electric in The Dalles.  Bob and Jonathan are Hire's solar division and do residential and commercial projects from Portland to Yakima to Tri-Cities and Walla Walla.  

If you have any questions, let me know.  Kat

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It's My Blog and I'll Brag if I Want to!

I am the Gramma of a five year old granddaughter--the one and only.  Yesterday was her first day of Kindergarten and she loved it!  She is a natural for school--super social and loves to learn!  Today she called to tell me she has her first "wiggly tooth"!  She has been waiting and waiting for this day.  She has a friend who is six and one who is seven and they have both lost teeth.  She kept wondering WHEN it would be her turn!  She informed me that "girls in Kindergarten are supposed to have wiggly teeth!"  At the end of the call she said, "Gramma, I LOVE my wiggly tooth!"  What a silly girl:)

My daughter told me the little princess has been growing up so fast lately--wants to shower instead of bathe; wants privacy when dressing; picking out her own clothes (previously she only wanted to pick out her shoes--that's Gramma's girl!); wants to do everything herself; and now the wiggly tooth!

My daughter and her family live about a seven hour drive from us but I go to visit every three months and have since the grandbaby was born.  I usually spend a long weekend--go up on Friday, come back on Monday--but since I am retired, I decided to go up on Sunday and come back on Friday this time.  That will give me time to see my granddaughter's classroom and go to her swimming lessons.

As I have said before, I am a knitter!  So, during my visits to see my daughter and granddaughter, I knit in my spare moments.  One day my granddaughter asked me if I was going to teach her to knit someday and I assured her I would.  She just said, "Okay!" and went on her merry way.  She wasn't ready to learn yet, just wanted to be sure I would teach her when she was ready.  In the Spring when I was visiting, we were in the car on our way to a restaurant--darling granddaughter in her booster seat in the back and Gramma sitting next to her.  I was knitting a scarf with some yarn I bought at a little quilt shop in Heppner called Artisan Village/Quilter's Roundup (they carry a limited supply of yarn and knitting supplies but their fabric supply is impressive).  I was knitting along and ran out of yarn.  My granddaughter said, "Gramma, you ran out of yarn; what are you going to do?"  I said, "I think there is one more skein of yarn at the shop where I bought this."  Then she said, "Gramma, you better hurry before the other Grammas get it!"  It was all my daughter and I could do NOT to bust out laughing.  We could both picture a brawl of Grammas over ONE skein of yarn!!!

As you can see, my granddaughter provides us with many happy moments!  Things always look different when seen through the eyes of a child.  I hope you have children in your life--kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, children of friends--to help you see life the way it really is.

Live, laugh and love!  Kat  (if you're addicted to fabric, this is the place to go)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sumpter OR Flea Market

Aerial of Downtown Sumpter
Last Sunday we made our little excursion to Sumpter, OR for their legendary Labor Day Weekend Flea Market.  "Sumpter is 4,424 feet above sea level.  The year-round population of Sumpter is approximately 191, consisting of 190 very nice people and one 'old grouch'.  In Sumpter, the Sumpter Valley Railway Restorations, Inc. operates a Historic Steam Narrow Gauge Railroad."  And, of course, the Flea Markets on Memorial Weekend, Fourth of July and Labor Day Weekend.

"It's all about the journey" so we had a great time.  On the way over we stopped in Ukiah at a cute little cafe/tavern and met a really nice man from the Netherlands who is riding his motorcycle (a Honda ST1100) in the U.S. for a month.  The way he and my hubby chatted on and on about motorcycles and riding, I thought our journey was over right then and there but, alas, we said our goodbyes and took off again heading toward Sumpter.  What a beautiful drive!  I highly recommend it.

Large round basket for my knitting
When we got to Sumpter, we did a little drive-through and I do mean "little"!  But, there were booths tucked away everywhere.  I was a little disappointed.  I was hoping for homemade items like quilts, knitted and crocheted items, blown glass, wood items, etc.  However most of the booths touted "garage/yard sale" and was junk I wouldn't give to Good Will.  There were booths with Watkins products, Scentsy candle products,  Mary Kay Cosmetics, dried fruit and nuts, ATV saddle bags, tools, and LOTS of food vendors.  One booth was selling baskets made by women in Ghana, West Africa.  Many of the women making these baskets are widows and the money from the baskets goes to support them.  I purchased my beautiful basket for $25 (unbelievable price) and was thrilled with my purchase.  Now that I look back on it, I wish I had bought another one as well.  The one I bought sits beside my bed with knitting projects in it.

We traveled home via LaGrande, stopping for Chinese food in LaGrande.  Pour hubby had to do the driving while I snoozed!  Again, "it's all about the journey":)

Next year we are talking about going over for the Memorial Weekend Flea Market (each weekend is different, I am told).  This time we will take a picnic basket with our lunch in it as there's not much for a vegetarian to eat in that part of the country.  Mark your calendars and we'll meet you there!  Kat

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sorry for my Blogging Vacation

I am sooo sorry for my little Blogging Vacation.  I have been consumed with learning all I can about Gluten Free cooking.  That on top of the garden and exercise, etc. has kept me pretty busy.  But I have some really great ideas for blog posts coming up so keep checking back.  I just checked today and have had nearly 500 visits since launching my blog in July!  Wow!  I am humbled by that and will get with the program to make your visits worthwhile.

Last Sunday we visited the Oregon State Fair.  What fun that was!  I always enjoy the fair.  This year we didn't spend as much time as usual so didn't see as much.  We usually go the second weekend so traffic has thinned out some.  Well, this was the first weekend and there was TRAFFIC--starting first just trying to get to the fairgrounds; about 45 minutes.  Then the line to get tickets was another 20+ minute wait.  Lots to see and do PLUS I got my bag of Suzy Q Kettle Corn on the way out (it's tradition).

This weekend we are heading off to the opposite side of the state to Sumpter one of their legendary flea markets.  They are famous for their three flea markets a year--Memorial weekend, 4th of July and Labor Day Weekend.  I'm taking my camera to this one so will have some photos to show when I get back.

Well, I am off to finish making a huge bowl of Gazpacho.  Want the recipe?  Well here it is.  I have been making this recipe of Gazpacho nearly every summer since 1979.  It is found in ideals Meatless Meals Cookbook by Donna A. Paananen.  Great way to use that bounty of tomatoes growing in the garden right now.

Diane's Gazpacho
Yield: 8-10 servings (for our family that would translate into 4-6 servings)

6 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 large cucumber (deseeded if seeds are big), chopped
1 sweet green pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 sweet red pepper, deseeded and chopped
1/2 sweet onion, peeled and chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small chili pepper, deseeded and chopped (I use jalapeno or salsa peppers)
1 cup (more or less to taste) tomato juice (when I have LOTS of tomatoes I blend up fresh as juice)
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil
2 tsp salt (a little more if fresh tomatoes were used as juice)
pepper to taste
Thoroughly mix together all ingredients.  Taste and correct seasonings.  Serve ice cold (if you can wait that long to eat it:))

Bon Apetit, dear friends.  Kat