Saturday, August 30, 2014

Closing Up Summer

After a very challenging Spring, I can't say enough about this Summer.  You can tell we've been having lots of fun because I haven't been here much.  I try to soak up this time with the kids with no schedules, pi's until noon, and time to do whatever we want.  Each Summer is special, but as my kids grow into little humans with their own personalities and opinions and identities, things just keep getting more fun.  This year, they are ages 6, 8, and 10.  They all swim independently, ride two wheeled bikes on their own, two of them read independently but still like to be read to at night, they help with chores, they take care of their guinea pigs, and while they fight and bicker as much as the next siblings, they seem to enjoy each other and play pretty well together.  This Summer has brought us a new car (the first in a looooooong time), visits to see family in Chicago and the Sierra mountains, the first mom and kids only camping trip, more time in the water than out of it, a couple days away for Mike and I, and lots of sightseeing in our own city.  I am sad to see it go.  Lots of parents are ready for their kids to get back to class, but I really love having these little guys with me all day.  They create chaos and lots of messes and NOISE, but having people pop up and tell you they love you and ask for hugs and kisses 100 times a day is pretty priceless.

If you want to see more photos, I'm on the gram.  My username is @sarahnade_  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Midwest Vacation

We have been busy busy here this Summer.  I have been playing with the kids more than knitting or pretty much anything else.  My kids go to Christian school and have the luxury of a traditional 3 month Summer break so we try to fill it with all the fun things in existence.

We spent 2 weeks in the Midwest with our family there and I have to say, that much time with that much family is really special to me.  I don't have a huge family so I really relish in my husband's big ol' Dutch clan.  It is a beautiful thing!  Pretty much, we just hung around lakeside and enjoyed one another so without much more explanation, here's some photos.

Oh, and did I mention fireworks are legal there?  That keeps us California kids pretty busy.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer Slaw

Ohhhh cole I love you.  Shaved vegetables in a creamy vinegary dressing just tastes like Summer to me.  I love how cole slaw tastes better the next day so you can take it to a picnic or camping and the flavors just get better and better.  This recipe was inspired after eating a chicken salad from Trader Joes and it has become my go to slaw recipe.  We have eaten it on pulled chicken sandwiches, alongside hamburgers, and I heard it was eaten ON hotdogs at the last boys camping trip. To each his own, I suppose.

Seeing as how it is picnic season and Fourth of July is coming up, I thought I would share my recipe with you in case you have somewhere to be and want something to throw together.  Plus, my friend Jon keeps asking for it.

A few notes before I pound out the recipe:

1.  The base is cabbage, but I embellish by adding whatever veg is in season.  I have grated in red onion, carrots, and broccoli and they are really good with it.  Or, just use cabbage.  That's ok too.

2.  The consistency is totally your call.  I like the texture of grated veg, but a finely sliced slaw may be your preference.  Either will work.

Ok, here we go.

Summer Slaw


1/2 head of cabbage
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup grated broccoli
1/4 cup grated red onion
*(if you want to just use cabbage, use a whole head and skip the other vegetables)*
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup sunflower seeds shelled


1 cup mayo
3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional, but highly recommended)

Grate the cabbage, carrots, broccoli, and red onion, and combine with the cranberries and sunflower seeds in a large mixing bowl.  (make sure it's a really big bowl so you can mix things up well) 

Add mayo, rice vinegar, lemon, salt, honey, and cayenne to a pint mason jar and shake the dressing (or hand it to a kid to shake up.  They love that job) until everything comes together.  If you don't have a jar, just whisk them all together in a separate mixing bowl.  

Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and thoroughly combine.  


This would be the finely sliced version in which I used a mix of red and green cabbage.  The grated version is pictured at the beginning of the article.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer Kick Off

The last couple of years, we've tried to plan something fun to do with the kids when school is over.  They work so hard and we are apart so much while school is in session, we like to get Summer started with some unadulterated family time.  This year, we were able to get the best campsite ever only for one night, but it was a glorious 24 hours.  It was like having beach front property if only for a sec.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


I feel like I've been mentally writing a eulogy for my grandpa for the last 5 years and now, when it comes down to it, I don't know what to say.  My grandpa died last Monday, quietly, with my mom holding his hand and after all these years of build up, his story just ended.

I asked all the usual nursey questions, ticking off my list of non negotiables for the dying: was he comfortable, did he seem at peace, was everyone there with him?  I wasn't there, but I could picture the scene down to the last precise detail since I have been the one at the hospice bedside of so many people who literally have no one to hold their hand as they take their last breath.  I pictured my grandpa laying there as a patient.  He was like all the others I had sat with and it took me a few days to connect with the facts and truly swallow the idea that he was gone.  I couldn't wrap my brain around the fact that the man in the bed was my beloved grandpa.  When it did finally hit me, my grief was like a big slap in the face; one that knocked me down and then laid on me like a weight I couldn't move.

When grandparents die, it's like then end of an era, of sorts.  I have so many glorious childhood memories attached to my grandparents and I fear that now grandpa is gone, those warm happy feelings I felt at the sound of his voice will be gone too.  And yet...and yet, my paternal grandmother has been gone 30 years, but the smell of talcum powder still transports me to her lap, snuggling, and playing with the gold sovereign she wore around her neck.

I have 2 older brothers and we are the only grandchildren.  We all have different memories of grandpa and he played a different role for each of us.  He invested time and energy teaching my oldest brother how to work hard and how to build things with his hands.  He treated Dave like a man which is really what he wanted as the oldest child.  My brother Ben and I are about 18 months apart and were rambunctious and mouthy and my grandpa would take us to job sites with him and hand us hammers and spikes and have us get started nailing into the logs with our scrawny freckly arms and he would follow behind and finish.  Then, when we got bored 5 minutes later, he let us run off and trudge through the rivers and forests, "just come back for lunch."  He didn't care how dirty we got.  That was the sign of a happy healthy kid, to him.

I'm afraid to forget the little things like grandpa's arthritic hands.  He swung a hammer for so many years, his hands were practically stuck in a gripping position to the point where he started wearing jumpsuits because he couldn't button his buttons and yet he could still muster the dexterity to hold grandma's dainty glass coffee mugs she loves so much.  I don't want to forget his hat collection.  He was bald as long as I new him and had work hats that were dirty and dusty, and fancy straw hats for his leisure days. They were always perched on his dash board and he would always impress upon us the importance of protecting his "bald head."  He was a jokester and had the same jokes he would say over and over like telling the waitress there must be a hole in his coffee cup because every time he looked down, it was empty.  No one thought he was funnier than he did.  I get that from him.

Nobody loved this family more than grandpa. He loved my grandma with his whole heart and never tired of spending time with her.  I never heard them fight or bicker.  He would hold her hand and kiss her a thousand times in a day.  They would go for picnics, take trips, and just sit in the car together holding hands when he couldn't walk around anymore.  He never worked late and always made it home to her before dinner.  He had us kids up at his house for weeks at a time and LOVED it.  He was game for anything we wanted to do and we were never ever bored (they didn't have a TV so this is saying something).  Even his decision to take in my mom and adopt her as a teenager was a testimony to his loving heart.  He took care of people selflessly. He had a knack for knowing just what to do to make people happy and often, that just meant spending time with them. We were his treasure and he let us know that with so much more than words.

There won't be a funeral.  My grandma has opted not to do one so I am working on a way to connect with my memories.  I'm making a list of things grandpa enjoyed and I plan to do all of them and give the man who gave me so much a week of my focus and attention.  It feels a little like now that the family man is gone, we can't figure out how to come together as a family.  Time and distance are jerks.

So for me, pretend you are at his funeral with me and I am reading this.  This is my eulogy.

William Lee Ruth was a:

loving husband
devoted father
builder of over 300 log homes in the sierra mountains
unashamed off key singer of hymns
kick ass bowler
5 star whistler (complete with vibrato)
boy scout backpack troop leader
expert sled run constructor
bb gun sharp shooter
and the most amazing grandpa a spazzy freckled girl could ask for.

Grandpa, I am so happy you are free but I miss you so so much. Thank you for thinking I was beautiful.  Thank you for cherishing this family.  Until we meet again...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Carrot Cake

My paternal grandmother passed away when I was 5 years old.  My memories are few-the coziness of her lap, the smell of powder on her skin, and her most amazing rice pudding. It’s hard for me to know what parts of my physical self I got from her but what I know are hers, and am proud to carry on, are her recipes.  One of them is the best carrot cake ever made.  It’s my dad’s favorite cake and I have been making it for his birthday (and other dad honoring occasions) for years.  It is really easy to make and the only thing I have modified is the frosting because in our family (save my mother, who does not like cream cheese frosting.  I know...), we liked to be slapped in the face with cream cheese flavor when we take the first bite.  Nana’s frosting was much more subtle and cream cheesy in a very polite way, a reflection of her refined English heritage I suppose.  I have Americanized it and taken it to the extreme because that’s just what we do here.  

Here’s the recipe:
Carrot Cake
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups grated raw carrots
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon,  and allspice and set aside. In a mixer, combine oil, eggs, and vanilla.  Add sugar to mix and combine.  Add sifted dry ingredients and continue mix until combined.  Lastly fold in carrots and nuts. Pour into to buttered round cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and not gooey in the center.
When the cakes are cooled, you  can whip up the frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Two 8 ounce bricks of cream cheese
1 pound of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat the cream cheese with the vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar little by little and continue to beat until desired sweetness and creamy consistency are obtained.  Frost away!
***if this is too cream cheesy for you (gasp) you can sub some of the cream cheese with butter.  It will cut the sharpness, but maintain the richness and texture. 

Note:  These flowers are Nasturtiums and are completely edible. They grow really well here in Southern California.  I planted these about 5 years ago and they have come back every Spring all on their own.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Will I see you there?

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