Saturday, June 30, 2012

To Our Friends in Hot Carolina

We’ve heard the news about your record breaking heat wave
and we want you to know we’re thinking of you.

We’d tell you that we feel your pain…

but that would be a lie.


(when they told us that summer here doesn’t start
until after the 4th of July, they weren’t kidding. 
We just hope they weren’t exaggerating!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Public Service Announcement

A package arrived in the mail from a friend a few weeks ago.  She’d told me that she was sending something and so I was watching for it and surprised that it took so long.  When it arrived I noticed that there was a correction on the zip code.  “Ahh…” I thought, “she messed up the zip code.”

A few days later there was another package, this one containing the letter with Josh’s end of school grades.  Strangely enough, that package had the wrong zip code too.  It was almost like lightning striking the same place twice. 

Then, last week, there was another package from yet another friend containing a cute refrigerator magnet.  Much to my astonishment she too had mis-written the zip code.

And then the light bulb slowly went on in my head.  Could it be?  Surely not.  But just to be sure, I pulled up the email that I had sent out to all 25o of my closest friends and relations announcing our new address.


Yes, there it was.

The WRONG zip code.  Just a tiny little typo, two numbers transposed.


And because I am too lazy to recreate that blind carbon copy list at this point in  my life (I’ll do that when we have yet another new address to report—sometime in the fall if we’re lucky) I’m just going to announce it here and on facebook.  Hopefully between the two most people will get the message that if they’re going to send me packages (what a great idea!!) they should use the correct zip code, which is 97124.


Thank you, and we now return you to your regularly scheduled program.  Whatever that is…  Winking smile

Thursday, June 28, 2012

One Month Report (part the second)

On the 5th of June Josh started for Oregon.  Ken drove his car here while Josh and Connor played computer games in the back seat.  They also traveled with Tiger, who spent a lot of time whining about having to be in the car or walking over people’s faces at night.  The car experienced a broken alternator belt in Illinois,


but fortunately they were able to get back on the road within a few hours.  They took the extreme northern route so that they were able to visit Mt. Rushmore.




and Twin Falls.


(Apparently Idaho was colder than Mt. Rushmore.)  They arrived here happy and tired on Sunday evening the 10th.


The next day we drove to the coast to be touristy with Ken & Connor.  We learned that the “haystacks” (huge rock formations jutting up out of the ocean) were caused by lava and we enjoyed looking for sea creatures around them.  We drove down the coast for a couple of hours enjoying the scenery and then went to the Tillamook cheese factory. 

Beach trip

It was great to see Ken & Connor and we were sad to put them on a plane the next day.

Tiger seemed pretty traumatized by the whole trip and spent the first week in Oregon sleeping in the 6 inches between the dryer and the wall. 


After about a week she calmed down a little and started being more sociable. 

The one place we won’t let her go is our bedroom since Russ is allergic to cats.  (Though he seems to be doing ok with her in the apartment.)  We kept the door closed for a few days until I decided that was making me feel claustrophobic and making the room smell musty, so we improvised a baby gate out of a cardboard box.


Tiger now spends her days sleeping on the dryer and hanging out in other interesting places.


Having never done this before (have a pet in the house) we are surprised to see how much we enjoy having Tiger inside.  We’re all a little sad that she’ll have to go back to being an outside cat when we buy a house, but Tiger has to live outside so that Cindy Lynn can come and visit.

We went and picked strawberries for the first time and my were they amazing. 


We love that we can drive 10 minutes and be into the country and able to pick berries.  We’ve now picked a few times and replenished the all important supply of strawberry freezer jam.  We picked raspberries today and are looking forward to the end of August when all of the wild blackberries along the roads ripen.


We walked one Saturday to the farmers market in downtown Hillsboro and appreciated again how close we are to everything here.  The farmers market was loads of fun, and it was a nice sunny day and the girls enjoyed the splash fountain nearby.


The next day on our walk I was amazed to see roses that were literally as big as my hand.  I’m loving the roses that grow everywhere.


I took an afternoon “off” and went into Portland to the Rose Festival Competition, held inside a local mall.  It was fun to see all of the beautiful roses in so many different categories, including categories I would never have thought of, like “miniature rose in a bowl”


and “rose and a stem in a frame.”


It was a fun afternoon and I’m looking forward to taking myself to the international rose test garden in Portland one day next week.

I’ve filled our balcony railing with flowers, a tomato plant and a zucchini.  I even bought a few gerber daisy plants though at the nursery they told me they won’t grow well here—I think I’ll have to find out that one the hard way.


The weather is definitely interesting here.  When people told me that summer didn’t begin until the 4th of July they weren’t kidding.  We had 2 nice 80 degree days last week and then it went back down to the 60’s for the next 6 days.  When we woke up Saturday morning it was raining and 50 degrees—freezing.  I had hot chocolate.  The kids leaned against the freezer for warmth.


I find it interesting that even when the weather is nice the sky isn’t generally clear blue—I describe it as a complicated sky, where there’s always something going on and things can change very quickly.


We’ve spent a fair amount of time at Goodwill trying to get all of the kids outfitted for their pioneer trek next week and looking for other treasures.  I know you’ll be shocked, but we did pass these (complete with built in shoe covers) up.


So there you have it—a really really long rundown of our first month in Oregon.  I talked to my NC neighbor tonight for a while on the phone.  She asked if we had made any friends and if we were finding anything to like here.  Not for the first time I was grateful for the social safety net of the church/ward—as hard as it is to adjust ourselves to a new place, it would be so much harder without a built in group of people who are happy to become our friends.  And I was glad to be able to tell her that as much as we miss NC, we’re finding lots to like about Oregon. 

PS.  I also survived my first haircut in Oregon—the first day was traumatic (when is it not??) but since then I’ve loved it.  I count that as a success since I’ve had my hair cut by the same person for almost the entire time we lived in North Carolina. I’ll try to get a picture at some point—it’s much shorter!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012



Rachel (reading a book): Was Juliet really only 13 or 14?
Me: Yeah, they were teenagers.
Rachel (in a disgusted voice): And they killed each other out of love? 
Me: Yep.
Jenna: That’s just disturbing…


(My couch full of kids this morning.  Can you tell it’s cold here?!?)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


It catches me unexpectedly these days.

I skype with my friend one morning.  We laugh together, she shows me the quilt squares she is working on, I tell her about picking strawberries.  When we end the call I find myself unexpectedly in tears.

I don’t want to skype with my friends.

I rush into church late, during the sacrament song.  I sing the last verse, try to focus my thoughts, listen to the speakers, sing with the children in primary again.  Josh takes the kids home after church and Russ & I stay to be set apart for our new callings; me as a primary teacher and him to work with the deacons.  We walk out of church and unexpectedly again, tears. 

I want my old ward, my wonderful calling, my dear friends.

My days are so busy.  Making food, feeding kids, more unpacking, trying to outfit everyone for the pioneer trek next week, shopping, more cooking, it seems there is never enough time for everything.  I try to squeeze in a walk and a read aloud session and our day is over, long past what should have been bedtime.  I collapse into bed and snuggle with Russ and as I relax, often there are tears.

The days feel good; we are together and happy.  But in the quiet dark of the night, my heart grieves.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Best Chicken Pot Pie EVER!


So it turns out that one of the benefits of living in a place where the summer (truly!!!) doesn’t start until July is that you have longer to cook “winter” food.  And really, I find it much easier to cook winter food, cause in the summer it’s too hot to think about cooking.  I’m sorry to all of you who are roasting in 97 degree heat—it was nice and cool here today, I started my day with hot chocolate, there was  just a hint of warmness in the afternoon when the sun came out for a while, but then it cooled back off again before dinnertime. 

Way back in the early days of my blog I posted a recipe for Easy Chicken Pot Pie.  Today I am here with a recipe that is not easy, but is definitely worth it.  I found it here but adapted some of the proportions to work better for me.  When you have a little extra time this is definitely worth the work—absolutely scrumptious and gets rave reviews from everyone except perhaps the boy who’d rather live on gummy bears.


All-Sold Out Pot Pies

Adapted from Rebecca Rather’s “The Pastry Queen”

Feel free to substitute the vegetables in the recipe for diced carrots, fresh corn kernels, diced turnips, sliced celery, cut-up asparagus spears or sliced wild mushrooms. Just add them to the sauté mix and enjoy.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 purchased cooked rotisserie chicken or 1 whole stewed chicken, cooled
  • 8 ounces fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
  • 1 (8-ounce) package frozen peas (optional)

[I never add bell pepper or mushrooms and always add diced & boiled carrots and steamed broccoli. I also use whatever chicken I have—boiled, baked, etc.]

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (optional)
  • Dash of hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces chilled cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 large egg
  1. For the Filling: Melt the butter in a large sauté pan set over medium heat. Add the onion and potato; sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms and sauté about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the crushed red pepper and add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. While the vegetables are sautéing, skin the chicken, pull the meat off the bones, and shred the meat or cut into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
  3. Place the green beans in a microwave-safe bowl, and add enough water to cover. Cover the dish and microwave on high power about 10 minutes, until the beans are tender. Drain thoroughly.
  4. Stir the beans, peas, and chicken into the vegetable mixture. Set the filling aside.
  5. For the Sauce: Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the chicken stock and cook the sauce over medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of a cream soup. Add the cream, hot pepper sauce, and salt and white pepper to taste.
  6. Pour the cream sauce over the chicken filling and stir to combine.
  7. Place mixture in casserole dish, or fill individual 1 1/4-cup capacity oven-safe bowls three-quarters of the way to the top with the creamed chicken filling.
  8. For the Crust: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the butter into 8 pieces. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the butter and flour until crumbly. Add the cream cheese, salt, and white pepper. Continue pulsing just until the dough forms a ball.
  9. Set the dough on a flat surface dusted with flour. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Roll out dough to cover top of casserole dish.  (If making individual pot pies measure the diameter of the pot pie bowls–mine are about 4 inches across–and cut out dough rounds that are 1 1/2 inches larger in diameter.)  Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Lay the dough  on top of the pot pie. (Dough can hang over bowl, though I am not sure what the point of this is.) Brush the dough lightly with the beaten egg. Bake the pies for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Turn on broil for 2-3 minutes if crust isn’t brown enough.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

One Month Report (part the first)

So we’ve been in Oregon for a month—can you believe it?  Here’s a quick (ha, am I ever quick?) rundown on our first month in Oregon. 

I started things off with a bang by disassembling the dryer (ok, just the door) which really surprised Russ.  But I figured in such a small area, there was no reason that the door should not open on the right side.  Unfortunately I wasn’t strong enough to get the screws in, fortunately Russ was able to reattach it for me.


Sometime during our first week there was a pounding rainstorm complete with thunder.  Apparently that is uncommon here because people talked about it everywhere we went for days.  It was cool to see a double rainbow right outside our door.


We discovered, much to our surprise, that North Carolina doesn’t have a monopoly on dogwood.  But that the dogwood that lives here is pointy.


Russ and I went on a date to the Rhododendron Garden in Portland.  It was nice to have some time alone together, and he was very patient with all of my picture taking.  Rhododendrons in Oregon seem to be what azaleas are in North Carolina—they are everywhere and there seem to be infinite varieties.  There are some that are bushes like in NC, but there are also rhododendron trees.


Our next Oregon adventure was a quick girl’s trip up to Seattle to spend some time with our friends the Wrights who used to be in our Durham ward.  Their oldest daughter’s ballroom dance team was having a dance concert and it sounded like just the thing to entertain us while Russ & Jared were on an 11 year old scout campout. 

The dance concert was a smashing success and both girls are now determined to become ballroom dancers.  The next day Jen & I took the kids to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma.  We got to watch glassblowers at work, try to design our own glass sculpture,


wear Lily’s rapunzel hair,


see all sorts of interesting glass art,


much of which (like the display of life sized chalices) we didn’t understand.


The best part of the glass museum was the bridge connecting it to a nearby area of shops.  The sides of the bridge contained blown glass objects,


and the ceiling as well!


We had a great time on our Seattle trip.

The next week’s adventure was the delivery of all of our stuff from storage into our two garages here at the apartment complex. 


One of the movers thought we were moving crude oil, but seemed satisfied when I told him it was wheat.


We were very happy to get more parts of our couch to sit on (and let’s be real, to put our feet on!) and to get a dresser for our clothes.

We got the exciting news from North Carolina that Josh had passed his Eagle board of review—YAY!



to be continued…

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Read-Aloud Report

We are having such fun reading aloud.  Half Magic was more than half entertaining and now Jenna is reading more books by the same author.  Nancy Drew and the Bungalow Mystery was like a delightful blast from the past.  We were particularly entertained by the continuing description of the “black foreign car” as if that was somehow significant.  Then we realized that when the book was written in 1930, a foreign car was might have been unusual.  Rachel found the next Nancy Drew on cd in the library and listened to that.  Then she said the reader (a professional and well known actress, lol) just didn’t do as good of a job as me.  I told her I still wasn’t reading any more Nancy Drew books aloud. 

A few minutes ago we finished our third book—one I decided to read to them on impulse after having read it myself for the first time last week.  It is by Lois Lowry (one of my top kid’s authors) and is called “The Willoughbys.”

willoughbys I thought I’d read all of Lowry’s books, but somehow missed this one.  The book is totally tongue in cheek (including a hilarious glossary at the end of the book that I wish we’d read when we started) and we were laughing the whole time.  I’m not surprised, since Lowry’s “Attaboy Sam” is hands down the funniest book we’ve ever, ever read. 

Next up, “A Swiftly Tilting Planet.”  Wish us luck on that one—complicated, not funny at all, but beautiful language and fascinatingly complex storyline…

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Oh My Gosh I Cannot Believe I Forgot!!!

After all those days and all those miles, I can’t leave these out.

Day 24: Pleasant Grove to Nampa


miles traveled: 392                                                                        total miles driven: 4722


AND…..drum roll, please….


Day 25: Nampa to Hillsboro, Oregon


miles traveled:  436 miles                                                            total miles driven: 5158


wow…did you see that?

5158 miles

right now I am pretty impressed with myself…do I know how to throw a road trip, or what?!?

Day 25: Oregon or Bust

Well it had to happen, didn’t it.  No matter how hard we tried to keep partying along the way, the day of becoming Oregonians had to finally arrive.

But not before having a great time at Megan’s house.  Megan introduced the kids to the book & movie of The Gruffalo, which Rachel is still quoting.  She showed them how to play the game her husband invented called Squarrels and just as quickly as he could Jared bought the app.  (Yes, apparently there’s an app for that too!)  We had such fun at Megan’s & loved meeting her super nice husband who made them a yummy lunch out of shells & tomato juice.  (And who may live to regret having invited us to stop by anytime!!)


Then, when we could delay no longer, we started for Oregon.  When we got to the welcome center in Oregon someone needed a bathroom so we pulled in, but I figured it was also a good opportunity to document this moment. 


And lest you start to think that my kids are always cooperative for pictures, let me show you a few more that I took…


They had a lovely rose garden at the welcome center and that made me very happy.

rose collage

Here are some of the other interesting things we saw along our way.

Tree farms:


Lots and lots of windmills.  I love that this pic gives some perspective on how giant these are.  It was super windy in this area—I could see why they would have put the windmills there.


For a while we thought we were driving along the worlds longest reservoir, and then we realized that we were driving along the Columbia River.  It was cool.


Once we realized that on the other side of the Columbia River was Washington, we had to drive over the next bridge we found just far enough so we could claim that we’d been in Washington too.

As we got closer to Portland we saw these beautiful flowering plants all along the side of the road.  They were so pretty.


As were the towering pines.


It would make a great ending to our epic travel story if I could say next that we got to Hillsboro, were thrilled to see Russ, and lived happily ever after.  And if that’s what you want to believe, go ahead and close your browser now.

In the interest of being honest for my posterity and letting them know that I’ve had hard times and survived, I will tell you what actually happened.  I had visions of being able to blog about this last day and call it something like “Reunited, and it feels so good.”

Instead, I started crying when we passed this sign,


and pretty much didn’t stop for the next 24 hours.  All I can say is poor Russ, thank goodness he’s a patient guy.  And that things have slowly gotten better.