Friday, August 31, 2012

{this moment}

this moment.  A Friday ritual.  A single photo, no words, capturing a moment from the week.
A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

::Reading with Riggs::

One of my favorite things to share with Riggs is my love of books and stories and poems.  So far he seems to love reading with both mama and daddy, and I thought it would be a good project to share some of our favorite works here on my blog.  I hope that you enjoy and maybe are inspired to share your favorite words as well!


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is definitely my favorite American poet, and quite possibly my favorite poet ever.  There is just something so calming and intriguing about his style of writing and I especially love to hear it read aloud.  When browsing the children's section at Titlewave in Anchorage, I came across this children's illustrated and abridged version of his classic narrative, The Song of Hiawatha.  It is called, simply Hiawatha, and is illustrated by Susan Jeffers.  I knew I had to get it for Riggs, and we have read it to him about once a week, sometimes more, sometimes less, since he was about two months old.  

I like to read it to him in the mornings or at night, when he is just waking up for the day or when he is just about to go to sleep.  There is such a musical quality to the beautiful metered verse that is like an Indian chant or beating drum.  It gives me chills nearly every time I read it, and Riggs seems to feel it as well, as he always stills and listens very intently to the words.  

The book is abridged, but it was done well and the illustrations are just beautiful.  We have the full copy of the poem as well, so as Riggs gets a little older we will probably start to read longer portions to him.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction, that has always spoken to me and is one of the reasons I could barely wait to read the entire thing when I was a child.  

Ye who love the haunts of Nature,
Love the sunshine of the meadow,
Love the shadow of the Forest,
Love the wind among the branches,
And the rain-shower and the snow-storm,
And the rushing of great rivers
Through their palisades of pine-trees,
And the thunder in the mountains, 
Whose innumerable echoes
Flap like eagles in their eyries;
-Listen to these wild traditions,
To this Song of Hiawatha!

Ye who love a nation's legends,
Love the ballads of a people,
That like voices from afar off
Call to us to pause and listen,
Speak in tones so plain and childlike,
Scarcely can the ear distinguish
Whether they are sung or spoken;
-Listen to this Indian Legend,
To this Song of Hiawatha!

Ye whose hearts are fresh and simple,
Who have faith in God and Nature,
Who believe that in all ages
Every human heart is human,
That in even savage bosoms
There are longings, yearnings, strivings
For the good they comprehend not,
That the feeble hands and helpless,
Groping blindly in the darkness,
Touch God's right hand in that darkness
And are lifted up and strengthened;
-Listen to this simple story,
To this Song of Hiawatha!

Ye, who sometimes, in your rambles
Through the green lanes of the country,
Where the tangled barberry-bushes
Hang their tufts of crimson berries
Over stone walls gray with mosses,
Pause by some neglected graveyard,
For a while to muse, and ponder
On a half-effaced inscription,
Written with little skill of song-craft,
Homely phrases, but each letter
Full of hope and yet of heart-break,
Full of all the tender pathos
Of the Here and the Hereafter;
Stay and read this rude inscription, 
Read this Song of Hiawatha!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

after the rain

We woke up to rain Monday morning, the kind of rain that is so loud and mighty and drenching that it drowns out any other sound or sensation until you can do nothing but listen to the rain, nearly feeling those huge drops pounding down onto the earth around you.  It was so beautiful, and so fierce and both Riggs and I laid in bed, staring out the window, watching the downpour.  It went on for some time, and the wind gusted and blustered as well, it was truly quite the storm.

Slowly, it began to ease up, until suddenly, it wasn't raining anymore.  The quiet seemed as loud as the rain had been just moments before.  We got up and started with our day, and I wondered if it would rain anymore.  But instead, the wind blew the rain clouds away, exposing the sun.  We went outside to enjoy what the rain had left, the sweet perfume of wet earth and trees and grass, so strong and lovely, the sparkling drips of water on the leaves, like crystals in the sun.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Having gotten all of the squares and triangles cut our for my pinwheel quilt, I've slowly been working away at piecing together the squares.  But a package came in the mail that sort of put that hold for a day or two.  It's a funny story, actually.  A month or two ago, I started work on a cowl - a lovely pattern that was very quick, easy and mindless (my favorite ha).  I think I may have even mentioned in it a earlier Keep Calm Craft On post...but anyway, back to the point.

I encountered a pretty significant problem, about an hour or two into the project - I didn't have enough yarn.  And I had purchased the yarn over a year before, and I couldn't find the same color and dyelot to purchase anywhere!  I had thought I had more of it when I started the project, but never could find that elusive extra skien (I'm convinced now that I imagined it and there never was an extra skein to begin with).  As a sort of latch ditch effort, I looked on Ravelry to see if anyone had that particular yarn for sale or trade, and one person happened to have it!  I was so happy and proceeded to personal message them right away.  They got back to me quickly, but I was disappointed by their answer.  They said that they would send it to me as a "gift" and that they wanted no money or yarn to trade in return.  I was disappointed because I thought it was just a scam or a joke of sorts.  But I sent them my address anyway and laid the project aside, forgotten.  Forgotten, until a few days ago, when I received a curious package package in the mail, from Canada of all places (I love Canada!).

Thanks to the generosity of this kind soul, I had enough yarn to finish the project, and I started work on it right away.  It was quickly coming together, and I was held up only by a few distractions.  First there was a cute little baby gnome, playing with his cube and sending me little smiles that nearly melted my heart.  Then there were the maple strawberry banana muffins I made for Steve's lunches that I had to sample (of course).

Then I decided to try the cowl on that cute baby gnome, and decided right then and there that I need to crochet him one or two for the upcoming winter.  How adorable he looked in it!  And he seemed to loving having something to pull and chew on as well.

When the sun came out I decided to work on it outside, and then finally it was done and I tried it on and wore it around the yard despite the heat.  I am very thrilled with how it turned out and plan on making a little miniature one for Riggs very soon.  Maybe after I finish the top of my pinwheel quilt...

linked up with Nicole at Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On {crafting on} 

Monday, August 27, 2012


*The topic I am posting about today could have material that is offensive or judgmental to some people, and I just want to state that it is not meant to be at all.  This is just our experience and opinion and is in no way a judgement of other peoples choices.

the scene of the "crime"

We had quite the eye-opening experience this past weekend.  We purchased a new bed from Costco, a king size memory foam style mattress made in the USA.  It had a very strong odor when we pulled it out of the box, but we thought at first it might be because of how it had been folded and compacted into the box it cam in.  We slept in the other room on our old bed for about six days while the new mattress was airing out in our bedroom.  Finally on Friday we thought it had aired out enough and that we might be able to sleep on it.  So we made it up and all piled in - to our delight it was very, very comfortable.  But Steve was a little annoyed because the smell was still present, just not quite as strong.

In the morning, Riggs woke us up screaming at about 5:50am, which is completely unusual for him.  He didn't want to nurse at all, and his little cry sounded hoarse, as if his throat was raw and sore.  Steve had a headache and a stuffy nose, I had a sore throat and all I could think was, Oh no, everyone is getting sick!  We all got up and started to go about our day.  Riggs took a long nap (on the new mattress), but when he woke up, he sounded even worse.  His voice just sounded horrible, and he wasn't really vocalizing as much, probably because his throat hurt!  I checked to see if he had a fever, but luckily he didn't.  And he seemed to be acting completely normal other than that.

That night, as we were getting in bed, Steve mentioned that the mattress was smelling pretty strong.  We felt pretty uneasy about sleeping in there, and my head was starting to pound from the strong odor.  I decided to do a google search to see if others had noticed this with memory foam mattresses or with this brand in particular.  What we found was pretty horrifying (and we moved right away to our old bed to sleep for that night).

Studies had been done that showed memory foam mattresses were known to emit as many as 61 different toxic chemicals, many of which are known to cause health symptoms!  The glues and foam needed to make the mattress are all toxic, and because foam is more flammable it requires even more flame retardant than innerspring mattresses.  Formaldehyde is one of the toxic chemicals found in these mattresses, as well as polyurethane, a type of plastic that produces chemicals called VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which outgas into the air.  And although VOC's decrease over time as they outgas, the chemicals sprayed on mattresses for fire retardant only increase their toxicity over time (this is true for innerspring mattresses as well).

The EPC has a page on their website which provides some information about formaldehyde being used in household products.  Here's just a snippet, "It has also been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans.  Health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; severe allergic reactions. May cause cancer."  The EPC also has a page dedicated to VOCs on their website, which describes in detail the toxic quality of these compounds.  "Many organic compounds are known to cause cancer in animals; some are suspected of causing, or are known to cause, cancer in humans."  And here is some information about the toxicity of fire retardants that are being heavily sprayed on all mattresses sold in the United States (other than those that use wool as a natural fire retardant).  

So my big question is, why are these products being sold without at least some sort of warning label on them about these chemicals which are known to cause cancer?  Thousands of people have reported sore throat, fatigue, chronic headache, bloody nose, swollen red and itchy eyes, and even heart attack-like symptoms just days after purchasing and using memory foam products, like mattresses, toppers and pillows.  How scary!  Steve and I both firmly believe that this is what caused all of our symptoms, as  after returning the mattress yesterday, we are now feeling just fine (including Riggs, whose hoarseness is almost completely gone today).

What frustrates me the most, is the prevalence of all these toxic chemicals in things we are using everyday and the digging we have to do to even find out about it!  It is so irritating and makes me feel uncomfortable bringing anything into the house unless I know, without a doubt, how it was made and what it was made with.  I guess this is just another reason to buy local and handmade items, which is a good thing, but it just saddens me to think of all the people using toxic items out there without having any clue.

We're a bit sad about returning the mattress - it was great to sleep in a king bed for a day as far as size and space goes.  But I guess we'll be saving up our money to buy a safer option, which isn't too bad really.  And we will definitely be purchasing a wool mattress topper for our queen bed, because I found (in my late night "research") that the more inches you put between your bodies and the toxic mattress, the better as far as getting away from the chemicals.

Friday, August 24, 2012

{this moment}

this moment.  A Friday ritual.  A single photo, no words, capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

jelly, syrup, and sun

Wednesday morning was so beautiful.  There were no clouds in the bright, blue sky, and the sun was shining at such an angle that everything it touched seemed golden.  I especially love the sun in the late summer and fall, its light so rich and heavy.  

After eating breakfast, Riggs and I went on a walk together in that warm, morning sun, and I spent about an hour and a half scavenging for the last fireweed blossoms and for as many ripened rose hips as I could find (we did not find too many that were ripe - it's still a little early for them I think).

When we got home, we separated them out and processed them, getting them ready for making syrup.  I picked a diluted syrup recipe from an old Alaskan cookbook I have.  It was very simple and quick - my kind of recipe!  I only had about 2 cups of rose hips, so I had to modify the recipe for that reason.

Those rose hips smelled so good while cooking, and the syrup turned out just delicious.  But as you can see from the photo above, I'll need about six times what I found for next time that I make the syrup.

Around my house, fireweed is about blossomed out, so it took a while to find enough to make the jelly. I think this weekend if Steve and I take the dogs on a long walk we will go somewhere nearer to Anchorage where the fireweed still seemed pretty abundant (at least as of the last time I was there).  I'd love to make some more jelly for the winter and for gifts.  As it was, I found enough to make two and a half jars of jelly, and I can't wait for it to cool and be ready for eating!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

right now...

Right now I am... thankful to have such a wonderful u-pick farm across the "street" from us.  I biked over there yesterday, and loved being able to leave my (not too expensive but completely invaluable to me) bike and baby trailer just leaning again the barn while I went out to pick what I needed for dinner, here and there, in the fields.  Then, to my complete embarrassment, I realized (after picking everything) that I had forgotten my wallet at home.  Cue the most gracious and friendly ladies ever who provided many easy options for me to continue home with my purchases.  I love Pyrahs!  Despite the mishap, I biked home with strawberry and rhubarb plants as well as some freshly picked strawberries and some greens for our dinner.

...enjoying more and more time spent outdoors since moving to our new home.  There are so many beautiful things to do outside, including just sitting in the yard and watching the leggy spiders scurry past me.

...watching the colors change to fall and loving it!

...digging in the yard.  I'm making space for the new plants from Pyrah's and for the three bags of spring bulbs I picked up the other day.

...amazed by the way that Riggs' so carefully inspects his surroundings, finding a sense of wonder in the simple things, like the way his shadow moves as he does.

...satisfied with the strawberry-rhubarb pie I made last night with all locally grown fruit (and honey!).  

...settling in so comfortably to this new life in our new home.