Monday, January 31, 2011


couple of years or so ago Lincoln and I both read this book.

It changed a lot about how our family eats.  While you will still find some processed food in our house, there is a lot less than there used to be.  We are more cognizant of where our food comes from and try to choose food from local sources when ever we can.  Even in Seattle we attempted to grow our own food.  We co-gardened with some friends who had a yard.  The problem with growing food in Seattle, however, is that you need three things for vegetables to grow: water, good soil, and sunlight.  Water we had plenty of, the soil needed help and we provided that, sunlight, however, was in very short supply.  The previous two summers we only produced enough food for each of our families to have a couple of small salads.

Well, I just happened to move to one of the richest farming communities in the country.  There is no doubt where your food comes from when you live on an orchard with a vineyard across the way, horses, cows and sheep aplenty, and all the resources needed to grow a garden and raise animals readily available to you.

I know it's still January, but we are novice "gentleman" farmers.  We are city people.  We are working against a pretty steep learning curve.  (Although, Link's family always had a garden and my grandparents had two small orchards and a large veggie plot, so we aren't TOTALLY clueless. . . we think.)  It's time to get started.

For inspiration I am reading this book.  (Thanks, Grandma!)  The Kingolver family moved from Tuscon to a farming community in Virginia to be able to produce their own food.  Hmmm. . . .

For instruction I am reading this book.  (Thanks, Sarah!)

First items of education on the agenda: chickens, rabbits, and building raised vegetable beds.

For those of you interested in more interesting reading along these lines:

The Encyclopedia of Country Living Blog
Michael Pollen's website (great index of resources)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Little Things

So one of the things that I knew I had to change out were my flour, sugar, rice containers in the kitchen.  The ones I had in the town house were flat squares reminiscent of a patterned glass block.

Very retro, very cool, very un-log house-ish. 

On our recent trip to Utah I had an Ikea shopping list that I took care of.  One of the things that was on my shopping list but I was not expecting to find at Ikea were new kitchen containers.
They are all flat, that's the fish eye effect on my wide angle lens.  I didn't fix it because I think it looks kind of cool.
Thank you Ikea for having exactly what I was looking for!

Saturday, January 29, 2011


One of the most difficult things about renovating and decorating the Apple House is trying to take the very modern furnishings we had in our town house and make them work in a log home.  Today I learned about a new decor style called "Transitional" which is, evidently, sort of the look I am going for.

Here's what I'm really saying.  You will not see any parts of any dead animals in my house (well, maybe some antlers painted terracotta, but probably not.)  Leather is out.  Log furniture is out (because, HELLO, do we not have enough logs to look out w/out putting log furniture in a log house?)

I will put curtains on all my windows to add softness to the house, despite (GASP) the fact that log homes are not supposed to have curtains.

I will, however, try to respect the nature of the home by using softer colors than I normally would, by using natural elements, and by using texture instead of pattern to bring interest to my home, so as not to compete with the strong geometric force created by the logs' horizontal lines.

Kan, June, Ja

Meet our newest family memebers, Kan, June, and Ja.

Yes, there are three of them in there.

We told John Henry that he could have a pet kitty when he was completely potty trained.  We weren't too worried about it as he was showing little to no interest in making that change.  Then we went to Utah to visit my family.  We should have guessed that having 12-20 people cheering him on every time he went to the bathroom would be the motivation he needed.  (This also resulted in him telling EVERYONE he meets about going to the potty.  Hello, Mr. Devo!)  In a little over a week he was good to go.

Well, a deal is a deal.  We told him he could have a kitty.  We went to the animal shelter here and were faced with 86 cats.  It was overwhelming for Link and I, John Henry's head was more or less spinning in circles.  We decided to come back the next week.  During the week he had mentioned something about wanting a pet fish.  As Link and I were a little hesitant about adding another mouth to feed/ creature to care for to our family, this little comment caught my attention.  I (in my most innocent mommy voice) asked John Henry if he would rather have a pet fish or a pet cat.  He thought about it for a bit and decided on a fish.  Before he could change his mind we were in the car and at the pet store.

To sweeten the deal we told John Henry he could actually have THREE fish.  He had been telling us that he wanted to name his cat KanJunJa.  (Don't ask, I have no idea where it came from.)  When we asked what he wanted to name the fish he said the same thing.  I asked what he wanted to name the other two and he said he wanted them ALL to be KanJunJa.  We suggested that each of them get a syllable.  He seemed pretty happy with that.  He loves to feed them but is very frustrated that he can't stick his hands in there and play with them.  Yes, we saw that coming, but it's better than getting scratched by a cat.

Because the fish live in my kitchen I decided they needed to have some kitchen related "toys."  Instead of your typical fish bowl fodder they have and ice cream scoop, an egg separator, and and a pasta spoon.  We also went for a glass cookie jar instead of the usual boring fish bowl.  It gave the fish more room and is significantly more asthetically pleasing.

Welcome home Kan, June, and Ja.  I hope John Henry doesn't kill you while I'm not looking. . .

Oh, and for those of you who feel the injustice in what we did (hey, he's only three and trust me he'd be in big trouble if justice was dealt out evenly in our family) we did decide that he could still get a kitty in the spring or summer after we know if we will be staying put or uprooting once again.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Drafty doesn't cover the Apple House.  When we first moved in you could see sunlight through the cracks between the logs.  We have gone to pretty extreme lengths to try to increase the efficiency of this house.  Other than when the contractor literally covered the house in caulk before painting it, the biggest thing we have done is add insulation to the attic.

One day Link decided to have a look at the attic.  This is how you have to get there.  Scary, huh?

When he got up there this is what he found.  Scary, huh?

That is part of of a pretty big subdivision of woodpecker houses.  Here's a different view for better perspective.  Scary, huh?

So, Link shoveled the nests out of the door.  (The attic had all ready been sealed by this time, so there were no longer any birds in the nests.  They are pretty mad about it, though.  We saw one working away on the wood a few days ago.  Watch for a spring project that will hopefully prevent their return.)

Here is what the rest of the attic looked like.  Notice the lack of insulation in much of it and how poorly it is installed on the parts that had it.  (Scary, huh?)

Link may claim that this was a big pain in the @**, but you take a look at the following pictures and tell me if this looks like they might have been having more fun than they let on.

Here is S. (one of the men who our land lord has hired to help fix this place up) taking his turn at blowing in the insulation.
 Filler 'er up boys!
 Turns out there was quite a bit extra. . .
 So they just kept going and going.  You are looking at a space that Lincoln could stand in before all this was blown in.  The word "overkill" comes to mind, but then, after you've lived in a poorly headed house in sub zero temperatures, it doesn't seem like you could have too much insulation!

The apple house is now insulated to the gills (at least in the attic.)  We'll continue to share the other crazy things we've done to try to keep the heat in this house.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Better than Iowa in 1846

I am descended from Mormon Pioneers.  In 1846 my ancestors were among those who fled their home in Nauvoo, Illinois and started out on the great American Exodus that was the Mormon Migration to the Rocky Mountains.

They crossed the Mississippi River in the middle of winter.  They traveled the first 300 miles at a painfully slow pace through the spring mud of the Iowa plains.  My great grandmother watched her husband march away with the Mormon Battalion, leaving her to cross the remainder of the plains alone.  They suffered through a winter at Winter Quarters, Iowa, where sickness and death were rampant.  All the while, the Saints built houses, sturdy bridges, and roads, not for their own short term use, but for the many travelers who would come after them.  They planted gardens that they would never harvest, intended only for those who would follow.

They arrived in the Salt Lake Vally in 1847.  My ancestors first settled in Salt Lake City but were dispatched to Grantsville, UT about 1850, only three years later.  Even then, they were not to remain for long, as they were soon asked to move to Paradise, UT to establish a community there.

Uncertainty was a way of life for them.  Home was where ever they were at the time.  They left each place knowing they would never return.

Why, on a blog about renovating a log house, would I write about the travels and trials of my ancestors?  In answer to my recent silence.

* Moving to an apple orchard in North Central Washington was never at the top of my adventure list.  I left a home I love, a community I love, dear friends, and the city I consider home.

* Over the course of the last month we have come to realize that the renovations the Apple House need are not simply cosmetic, but more drastic and necessary for continued habitation.

* In addition, the entire purpose for our drastic move, a job that would repay student loans and help us recover from adoption and medical expenses, has stalled and every incentive we had to come here is suddenly in question. 

I have been throwing myself a pretty little pity party.  In my anger over the uncertainty of our situation I have not wanted to work on the Apple House.  I have wondered, WHY SHOULD I strip wall paper, stain curtain rods, and hang shelves in a home that I may never get to enjoy?

I have gratefully found the quiet answer in the example of my ancestors.

Because someone will enjoy it, and they will be thankful.  Because the simple act of hard work will keep you mind occupied and push away anxious thoughts.  Because it isn't a covered wagon and this isn't that bad.

Mormon Pioneers also did a few other things that I have found to worthy of emulation.  They sang as they walked and worked along the trail.  Every evening, (despite what must have seemed like a never ending trek) they circled their wagons, lit a fire, played music and danced.  How long could depression linger when cheerful music and dancing was a part of your daily routine?  

Today I painted my front door bright red.  I feel a lot better.  Tomorrow I will sew curtains as I listen to cheerful pioneer songs.

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