Tag Archive | log cabin

For three weeks

  • I will not scrape my hands on the ceiling when I change clothes.
  • I will not bang my head on a log when I put my kids to bed.
  • I will not have to start a fire.
  • I will not have to check the stovetop for mouse poop before I start cooking (Official Mouse Count is up to 30, btw).
  • I will not have to drive 8 miles to a grocery store that I don’t even like.

For three weeks

  • I will have an oven and plan on using it every single day.
  • I will have a bathroom counter on which to set my hair brush and makeup. It’s the little luxuries.
  • I will be able to put Konik in a separate bedroom from his sisters. They might actually sleep!
  • I will be able to send the kids outside to play, even when it’s raining. Hurray for covered patios!
  • I will have the pleasure of walls and doors in between rooms.

For three weeks

  • I will miss hearing the river rushing by.
  • I will miss seeing the hummingbirds at our window feeder.
  • I will not have my sewing machine.
  • I will be paranoid that my kids will break something.

For three weeks we will be house-sitting for friends, F & S, in another town. They get to go on a tour of Europe by motorcycle. We get to stay in a house with heat. Not knocking the cabin — without our other friends, M & M, so generously letting us stay here, these past eight months would have been dire indeed. But it will be a nice change of pace and as close to a vacation as we’re going to get this year. F does have a sewing machine in her house and said I was welcome to use it. I may, but don’t be surprised if the next few weeks are rather crochet-heavy. I’ll see if I can come up with something else to break it up a bit.

We will be coming back to check on the cabin periodically and mow the lawn  weed-whack the yard  trim the greenery, so don’t anybody get any ideas about crashing our pad. We don’t have anything worth stealing anyways, but do feel free to take a couple mice with you when you leave.

Christmas decos, Forest Edition

Are you feeling strapped this Christmas? Want a little Christmas cheer without the cost? I’ve got more ideas for you! (Please excuse the date stamps on some of the photos. Rana got a hold of my camera last night and I didn’t realize she had changed the settings until after I uploaded the photos.)

It all started with a windstorm the week of Thanksgiving. Granota and I were outside the day after and noticed all the branches that had blown down into the yard and my wheels started turning. What makes better Christmas decoration than fresh evergreen boughs? We collected several and laid them up on the porch to dry and give the bugs a chance to escape. Just down the road there was a bush with perfectly round, perfectly white little berries (snowberries, aptly named). We ran and got a bucket and picked several. I thought they might make a pretty garland strung together, especially if we could find some red berries. So we kept on walking to see what else we could find. We did find some red berries, but they seemed too mushy to use for a garland. A little farther on, we crossed a tiny stream and on the other side, we found what appeared to be miniature pine cones littered all over the ground. At first, I couldn’t figure out what tree they had come from, but then I found some cones with a leaf attached. A leaf? Later, when we got home, I did some searching online and found that they are from an Alder tree and are actually called catkins. How cute, huh?

Tiny little alder catkins, less than an inch long

I was still on a quest for red berries for my garland. Anytime we drove anywhere, I was scanning the roadside for red berry bushes and making mental notes of their locations. I knew exactly where to find holly and other red berries in Tacoma, but I just wasn’t having much luck out here. Then, I ran across a Norwegian blog that deflected my mania from red berries to apples. Take a look at what she did. LisemoresHave Don’t worry; I don’t read Norwegian either. Yet.

Soft red soopollalie berries are too mushy for garland

So you’ve looked at the Norwegian blog now, right? How easy is that?! Apple trees grow wild out here. I’ve been noticing for weeks the many leafless trees still clinging to their apples. Now all I needed was a chance to get out and pick some apples! Problem was, we had just one working car and it’s a stick-shift, which I can’t drive. That meant I had to wait for a time when Mr. Gren could take me out apple-hunting. Finally, that occasion came last Saturday! It’s a good thing, too, because apples were all I could think about for days. The girls had a Christmas VBS to attend, so it was just Mr. Gren and Konik sitting in the car waiting for me. We stopped at a tree close to home and I ran across the highway with my trusty bucket. Little bit of a problem, though: The apples were all too high for me to reach. But, if you know me at all, you know a little thing like that won’t stop me.

Wild apples, freshly whacked from the tree.

First, I attempted to climb the tree, but you know what? Wild apple trees are really gnarly and scraggly. I got caught on branches a few times before I decided to change my course of action. There was a long, straight stick on the ground which ended up serving me quite well in knocking down loads of apples. All the while, there were horses in a pasture across the road who were very interested in all this activity. So I knocked down a few extra apples for them and they were very appreciative. I have new friends!

What I had collected thus far and the infamous bucket

On Sunday, my quest for red berries was satisfied. On the way to church in Olympia, I saw several holly bushes; I had my bucket but no pruning shears. I might be unorthodox, but I’m not crazy enough to attack a holly bush with my bare hands! However, I did see some other bushes with nice smooth leaves and lots of pretty tiny red-orange berries. As far as I can tell, they’re some kind of hawthorn or firethorn. Once again, I made Mr. Gren pull over and let his nutty wife out with her foraging bucket. In the middle of town.

Clusters of hawthorn-ish berries

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been working on my own version of Lisemore’s beautiful decorations. First, I worked on making little apple wreaths. I borrowed a screwdriver from Mr. Gren (I promise I’ll wash it!) to skewer the apples and then strung fishing line through them. Easy!

Is it still a wreath if it's not round? We'll call it an apple hanging.

I don’t have all those pretty galvanized buckets like Lisemore does, so I had to use empty flower pots of varying sizes. This literally put a hole in my plan. If you see in her photos, she filled her buckets with water and let it freeze and then was able to lay the evergreen branches and apples on top of the ice. Obviously, flower pots aren’t going to hold water because they have drainage holes. Ice wasn’t going to be a real practical option, anyways, because it doesn’t stay below freezing here through the winter like it does in Norway. I needed something to build up the level to where the apples and branches would be visible. What else do we have in abundance here? Where there are fir trees, there are fir cones. And lots of them. Once again, the bucket and me. After I had harvested a few pounds worth, my back was killing me so I called it good, even though they didn’t quite fill up each of the pots. I just padded it up with extra evergreen. By this time, though, I had used up all my good big apples in the wreaths and all I had left was a handful of tiny ones. Mr. Gren didn’t seem real keen on taking me out on another apple-picking excursion, so I did what I’m getting good at: Make do with what I have. And what did I have? Little red berries.

You remember that there is still a garland yet to be made. I think I’m going to save that project to do with the girls. The alder cones may appear there since my red berries were called into duty elsewhere. I’ve enjoyed foraging for my Christmas decorations so much that I might try to do this every year, cabin or not. It felt good to make use of natural things and for free! It also made me feel kind of Celtic, gathering alder cones and hawthorn, which are both used in traditional healing and that sort of thing. I really needed some holly and mistletoe to round it out. But hey, Christmas isn’t here yet, and I know I’ll be passing a holly bush at least once before, so there’s still time to get my Druid on. And, with any luck, Mr. Gren won’t have to drive me that time!


Cinnamon Cabins

Every year, Mr. Gren and I get our kids a new Christmas ornament just for them. Sometimes we let them choose, other times we surprise them. Either way, they always look forward to seeing their new ornament on the tree. We didn’t want this year to be any different just because Mr. Gren is unemployed. The kids have already missed out on a lot this year because of it. The hitch is, we can’t buy ornaments this year. When we moved, I didn’t bring my full crafty equipage, which limited my options for DIY ornaments. Basically, I have yarn or fabric. I wasn’t feeling it, though. Mr. Gren suggested that I make something that would remind the kids of the year we had Christmas in the cabin. Last week, I was browsing around etsy for fun and happened across some cinnamon clay ornaments. Cinnamon clay… hmm….

I did a search for a recipe and found several sites all giving the exact same recipe. I don’t know where it originated, but apparently it’s the most popular recipe on earth because it was everywhere, from women’s magazines to homeschool groups to pagan & Wiccan forums. Try that for a conversation starter, sometime. Or maybe the opening line to a bad joke. Anyways, this recipe, in addition to copious amounts of cinnamon, also called for equally generous quantities of applesauce and glue. This struck me as odd since I knew there were plenty of homemade play-doh recipes out there that never included so much as a drop of glue. “Kneading” said dough also seemed a dubious proposition, although it must work somehow given the pervasiveness of this particular recipe. Still, I wasn’t sold. The next day, I did another search and, miraculously, the first link that came up was a question by someone looking for a cinnamon clay recipe that did not include applesauce and glue. And somebody actually had an answer! She referenced this site: The Holiday Zone. It has both versions of cinnamon clay.

Just a little bit of paint for the finishing touches.

I copied down the recipe and then realized that this was going to make a lot of dough. I only needed to make three ornaments! With Mr. Gren’s help, because I am pathetic at math because he loves me, we reduced the recipe by a third. I’m going to reprint it here so that the unadulterated version of this recipe will live in at least one more place on the web.

Cinnamon Clay

3/8 cup flour
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
1/3 cup salt
1/2 Tbsp ground nutmeg (optional)
1/2 Tbsp ground cloves (optional)
1/3 cup water

Mix dry ingredients with water to form smooth, stiff dough. Sculpt as desired or divide dough and roll it out flat between two sheets of wax paper to 1/4″ thickness and cut out with cookie cutters. While dough is still soft, use a straw to poke a hole near the top for hanging. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes to dry.
This recipe makes four to five 2.5″ ornaments.

Some notes from my experience: It may be better to dissolve the salt in the water rather than mixing it with the flour and spices. The salt wanted no part of this. While I was kneading the dough, grains of salt were abandoning ship left and right. Thank goodness for the wax paper that made cleanup easy. Also, this dough puffs up quite a bit when you bake it, so take that into account when creating your shapes.

Look close and you can see the salt.

I don’t have a house-shaped cookie cutter, so I had to form my own little log cabins. The puff-effect distorted their shape a little, but it doesn’t matter because the kids were enchanted by their very own little cabins. And that was the goal.

All three little cinnamon cabins

Cabin Tour

First, I want to thank everyone for the nice response to my skirt in Monday’s post. You’re all so kind!

Today, I thought I’d show you around the cabin a little. I’m still working on Christmas decorations, so we’ll save that for another post. I might even get the place picked up for that one. No guarantees, though. There are three short people here who see to it to keep me humble by dashing any hope I have of achieving magazine home perfection. Still, the cabin manages to be picturesque.

Taken near the riverbank looking back up the hill to the cabin.

When you come in the front door, my sewing area is to the right and the kitchen is to the left.

What I lack in horizontal space, I make up for in height.

My sewing machine is spending a lot more time under its cover these days because Konik has discovered how to 1) Turn on the machine, 2) unscrew the foot and drop the foot shaft, and 3) push the pedal and make it go. He has crept up on me a couple of times and pressed the pedal at highly inopportune moments. When I was threading the needle, for instance. A lot of screaming followed, but thankfully no blood. Now I have learned to slide those blue bins around behind my machine whenever I get ready to work so that Little Mr. Pest can’t get in there and ruin something. Like my finger.

Sink to the left

My camera batteries were dying on this one, so forgive the graininess. It’s a fine little kitchen. Probably not magazine-worthy, but I’ve cooked here for a month, so it works. At first glance, you may not notice anything unusual, but take a closer look and find the oven. Go ahead. Ah, there’s not one. But I do have this spiffy NuWave portable convection oven thing (over on the left) and my crockpot has seen more action this past month than it has in a long time. People kind of gasp when we tell them that there’s no oven, but really, it hasn’t set me back that much. I have to think a little differently about how I cook, but that’s ok.

In the center of the cabin is a orange & brown velour-covered couch that was already here. It faces the large fireplace and behind it is the “dining room.” It’s nice how one piece of furniture, aptly placed, can create two different “rooms.”

Oh, how I anticipate the day when I can dress up my naked table and it won't get ruined.

Still big; still stone.

Then, as you can see, we have our living room area off to the left. I think it actually turned out to be about the same size as the living room in our previous house.

In a rare moment with no toys on the floor.

Our furniture is not really of the “rustic” variety. It kind of works in here. If I were staging this room for a magazine, though, this would look different. I’m not sure how, exactly, but it would be different. And probably still not rustic. That’s not really my thing.

Upstairs are two areas: the long loft that Mr. Gren and I call our bedroom, and the actual bedroom where we crammed all the kids. They are in there because it has walls and a door, so I don’t have to worry about them falling off any railing.

Long, narrow, and 6 feet high

Somehow, Mr. Gren ended up on the short side of the room. It kind of makes me laugh to myself watching him have to hunch over just to get in bed. hee hee hee. If you remember the flying squirrel story from a few weeks ago, he started out about where this picture was taken, bolted across the room and then jumped off the open end of the loft to start the shenanigans downstairs.

They even "picked up" for this.

Speaking of shenanigans, you should see bedtime around here these days with a 6, 4, and 2 year old in the same room.

Konik gets shoved in the corner where he can't reach the light switch or the curtain.

Their room actually looks better now. We purged some toys and got the general clutter taken care of. We also turned Konik’s bed the other way because it was breaking our backs to try and pick him up while we were hunched over!

The cabin tour wouldn’t be complete without a shot of the world’s tiniest bathroom. I think it’s hilarious.

The bedroom door also doubles as the bathroom door.

There is another bathroom downstairs, behind the living room, that is a bit larger and sports a cast iron clawfoot tub. I’ve always wanted one of those, so it’s kind of fun to borrow one for awhile.

So there’s a little tour of the place! It’s very loggy, very cabiny. And we are so grateful to our friends for letting us live here while we sort out life!

You wish you lived here.