Small News

Dear Erin,

Yuck, yuck, yuck! Don’t you dare send them our way. That’s one of the things I’ve liked a lot about Northern California: many, many fewer bugs here than in Florida.

I had a whole serious post going, but I just couldn’t get it to my liking with the amount of brainpower I had available at this time of night. So instead I’m going to just tell you about our weekend.

Friday night we went out and tried a new BBQ place. It did not earn a place on my list of best-evers in this type of cuisine. What kind of barbecue place doesn’t have sweet tea or mac and cheese? What kind of barbecue place charges you extra for your Texas toast??

Saturday morning, Charles went to help repair bikes with the church, while I enjoyed a quiet morning of reading at home. In the evening, we went over to the house of some friends for a delicious dinner. We also played some new board games: Tsuro, which was theirs – very simple, fast, fun; and Caveman Curling, which was ours – easy, fun, and great to play girls vs guys. Each team won once, in case you were wondering. Then we sat around the table and exchanged wedding stories. Well, to be more specific, we exchanged stories of wedding almost-disasters. Also fun.

Today at church, I played with the worship team and sang for the offertory, so we had to be there early. It was a pleasure, though, as usual. (Setting aside the question of nerves, which I may address in a later post.) Lunch at our usual restaurant, where Charles and Lawrence (our waiter every Sunday) discussed the NFL draft, and I proved that I lived in Florida long enough to absorb some knowledge of football despite having little to no interest in it. Granted, it’s just floating in the air there, like the smell of coffee from the Maxwell House plant or like oak pollen, and it would be harder to avoid such knowledge than to acquire it.

This evening we watched the latest Doctor Who, and I have to say I think this season is shaping up very strongly, despite being somewhat disjointed. It should wear well. And then we watched HGTV. Now, we haven’t watched this channel in years, but all of a sudden it seems interesting again. No prizes for guessing why. But the most fun (to my snarky self) is judging the homeowners on these shows. “I can’t believe they did X, Y, or Z!” “They spent how much? On that?” Hmm, should probably stop doing that; not good for the soul.

The only other thing of interest from the weekend is that apparently our hill caught on fire. They had to bring in helicopters as well as fire trucks to put it out. We were at home and didn’t notice a thing.

To be fair, it’s a big hill.



Dear Kristen,

Such an exciting packed couple of weeks for you!  Love the way the house is coming along.  Can I share with you the visitors we’ve had at our house recently?


Yup.  Inchworms.  There has been an onslaught, a full military attack, of inchworms. They are everywhere!  They come when the pollen comes and there seems to be a significantly larger number of them this year than in years past.

You might be tempted to think that because they are so small, they are cute and fun.  Don’t be fooled!  They purposefully leave traps of cobweb material at every door to the outside.  They booby-trap the steps.  They know about Munchkin, so they put traps at her height and Gibbs’!  Devilish little things!


Watch out new homeowner….they could traverse this great continent (an inch at a time) and lay traps for you.

Weekly Top 4

Dear Erin,

I think you mean no rashes on both those cute faces. I’m sorry this post is late; I’ve been busier than usual lately. So I thought I would follow the tried and true wisdom of bloggers immemorial (such as the Yarn Harlot) that the internet loves lists and give you a list of what’s been taking up my time.

1. The Heart 2 Heart Women’s Mentoring Ministry at church:

About a year ago, Jenny, a good friend of mine from church, started sending out feelers about starting a formal mentoring ministry for the women of our church. You know that being in discipling relationships with other women has been important to me for a long time. I was mentored by great women growing up – some related to me, some not – and you were, too. And I’ve realized how important it is for Christian women to help each other grow both to become more mature believers and to strengthen the Body of Christ. Not to be gross, but those relationships are like the sinews and tendons that hold the Body together and enable it to be strong and to work.

Anyway, Jenny was moved to start this program, and I volunteered to help. So I’ve been helping, along with two other women, as we’ve pursued this off and on over the last year. But it’s been ramping up over the last couple of months. And finally, this past Sunday, we kicked off the first round of the program, which was both exciting and terrifying. So now it’s rolling along and will be going for the next six months. I really hope and pray that it becomes a vital, viable ministry for the foreseeable future.

2. Birthday:

Last Thursday was my birthday, so there were nearly weeklong celebrations from generous and loving people, and Charles and I also…

3. Bought a House:

Or at least, we made an offer on my birthday, and it was accepted the next day. But it makes for a better story that “I got a house for my birthday.” Ever since, we seem to have wandered into a very large pile of paperwork that must be completed asap, people that have to be seen, problems that can arise. I guess what we really did was start the process of buying a house. So, again – exciting and terrifying. Seems to be the theme of the month.

There’s very little that must be done to it – get some new light fixtures and maybe a new fridge – but will you laugh at me if I tell you that I already started a list of things I want to do? Eventually, of course, not necessarily right away. But they’re just things like putting some roses in the backyard and painting my office red. I’ve always wanted a cozy, red library lined with bookshelves.

So here are the answers to the question people who read this post might be asking, which is “Did you get what you were looking for?” First requirement – met: It’s a good size and not too big, but the space is well organized and intuitively right, not wasted. Second requirement – sort-of met: There is lots of natural light, with plenty of windows and balconies and high ceilings, but there are not trees all around. Only in the backyard and visible from the back of the house. Still, almost all the windows look in that direction, so they’re very present. Third requirement – not met: the house is young and the architecture is more practical than romantic. Practical is probably easier to live with, though my English major self winces at saying that. Fourth requirement(s) – totally met as far as I can tell: nicely green, (don’t know about the computer-y stuff yet), in good shape and open inside. Final requirement – met: view of mountains and downtown, and the price was right. Not exactly “decent” by Cracker standards (it’s fun to see what the same amount would buy in Jacksonville), but decent for this part of the world.

4. Red gloves:

katieredmitts5I finally finished them. And they came out great!


A little DIY

Dear Kristen,

I’m glad you enjoyed some new Miyazaki recently.  I still ocassionally think back with fondness on our evening watching Howl’s Moving Castle.  It was VERY fun (mostly due to the company, but the movie was great, too.)

Today I thought I’d share with you a little DIY I do.  You know that Matt and I enjoy a little DIY now and then.  Whether for the house, yard, kitchen or even the Munchkin, we’ve explored the world of elbow grease and ingenuity.  For example, its been years since I’ve purchased a boxed cake mix (scratch is yummier and cheaper), a good section of Munchkin’s clothes are refashioned shirts of mine, and we’ve remodeled our kitchen.  This is a combination of fun and frugality for us.

The following DIY wasn’t about fun, though.  It was a result of a little frugality and lot of necessity.

This past fall, we had some unexpected skin issues that we’re at least partially sure can be blamed on laundry detergent.  I was having issues and the Munchkin was having issues.  Mine were connected, we think, to the tried and true Tide detergent.  Munchkin’s to another brand.  I don’t know if it was a change in the products’ chemicals or something in us, but either way I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try a little DIY and see if it helped.  Since January I’ve been making our laundry detergent and, as of now, am pretty pleased with the results.

There are a lot of recipes on Pinterest with a slight alteration from the recipe I use (see below), but I’m content to stick with this for now.



  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • 1 bar soap
  • Mason Jar

I grate the bar of soap, add it the jar along with the other ingredients, seal it up and shake it.  Done.  Really not all that hard, significantly less expensive, and best of all, no rashes on this cute face!


Miyazaki, Magician

Dear Erin,

Sausage gravy…yum. I will definitely have to try that soon.


A couple of weeks ago, we went to see a new Studio Ghibli film, “From Up on Poppy Hill.” It’s in limited release around the country, and only one theater around here is playing it. You know how much I love the work of Hayao Miyazaki, and I’ve seen (and now own) most of the movies that have come out in English language versions.

H. Miyazaki wrote this one, although he didn’t direct it, and it’s probably going to become one of my favorites in this particular canon. It’s a realistic story that takes place in the 60’s and follows a young girl, about high school age I think, who is very responsible and helps take care of her grandmother’s boarding house while her mother is studying in America. Her father died in the Korean War. She and a boy in her school start a very sweet relationship. Of course, they run into problems, but they also help save a historic building on their school campus, and everything works out in the end.

Like all Studio Ghibli films, the artwork is really very beautiful. Like all Miyazaki films, the protagonist is a recognizable, likable character. Like most of his films, she’s also a girl. I’ll have to see it again to be sure, but I think it  will fall into a totally-arbitrary-and-liable-to-change-tomorrow hierarchy somewhere about here:

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle
  2. Spirited Away
  3. Castle in the Sky
  4. From Up On Poppy Hill
  5. Lupin the 3rd: the Castle of Cagliostro
  6. Kiki’s Delivery Service
  7. Ponyo
  8. My Neighbor Totoro
  9. Princess Mononoke
  10. The Secret World of Arrietty
  11. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
  12. Porco Rosso

By the way, the ones that are probably best for little kids, like the Munchkin in a couple of years, are #7 and #8. But they’re all pretty awesome. Highly recommended. Of course, you can just not bother, and when she comes to visit us someday, I’ll show her all of them.