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Five simple things


We've had a pretty good week so far and with no rain today and I am hoping that it will stay away this weekend and stay clear into Halloween. We hit the pumpkin patch this week and also worked in a night where we went out to eat with some good friends. I would love to have a rain-free weekend to put out more Halloween decorations and get ready for trick-or-treaters. We reserved our yearly cotton candy machine for the night of Halloween and are raring to go. We have been giving out fresh-spun cotton candy instead of actual candy on Halloween night for the last few years now and it's just plain fun. This will be our fourth year doing cotton candy and we are anxious to see how many we get this year. We handed out about 200 cones the first year, the second year we spent in Arkansas and spun cotton candy there for a Halloween party, the third year gave us about 550 kids and adults, and this year we are prepared for more. We love the fact that the kids around town know to come to our house for some warm, hand-spun, cotton candy treats. We add a new thing to the mix each year and it's something that The Mr., The Bean, and I prepare for all year long. Can't wait to have another great Halloween night filled with laughter and some great cotton candy. With that, here are the things that made this past week great!

1. Pumpkin patch.

This past week we went to the pumpkin patch and loaded up on some large pumpkins to display this year. Right when we pulled into the pumpkin patch I saw the one I wanted right away. The stem of it was amazing! I love unique things and this one had my name all over it. It ended up weighing over 55 pounds. We decided not to carve them this year and "possibly" just draw a face on, but as the days are getting closer to Halloween I think we will leave them as they are. 

The Bean and The Mr. got some good ones too. The Mr. went with one that was tall and skinny and The Bean went with one that was a perfect pumpkin size-short, round, and the stem being everything you imaging a "perfect" pumpkin to be.

2. Mr.'s bike.

The Mr. finally upgraded his bike options and decided to grab himself a new Raleigh. It looks pretty slick and suits him perfectly. More on this later.

3. This box.

I can not help myself when it comes to some subscription boxes and this one has been peeking my interest for a bit now. I decided to grab one in the off season and see what the hype is about. Being on a minimal journey it seems counterproductive, but I decided the things I don't want, need, or like for myself I can shift them to Christmas gifts and pass along something great for someone else. This box however, was pretty nice. I got a $10 off on it, so it was worth the try. If you haven't seen, heard, or been told about this box, give it a go here.

4. Baz's ashes.

I had mentioned last week about finally getting Baz's ashes back to us. I find myself talking about him now without bursting into tears. I am glad we finally have him home and we'll decide what to do with them in time. We have looked into a company that will turn the ashes into a tree, but we aren't sure what we want to do exactly, as of yet. I will share here once we figure it out.

5. New shop.
I've decided to give Big Cartel a try and sell some of my items again. I never liked being on Etsy, so I was discouraged about starting up another online marketplace. I've been pleased with Big Cartel so far and have listed my hand painted burlap prints on there. I like the clean layout on Big Cartel and how everything is easily accessible. Plus, one benefit over Etsy, you don't have to be a member or sign up for anything in order to purchase. You can access the South North South shop here.

Have a nice weekend!

Five simple things


We've had a pretty slow week this week. we've been slowly getting back on a normal schedule since Baz's passing. Yesterday we got a call that his ashes were ready and I will share a picture of them next week. I feel right now that it's private for us and we want the week and the time to continue to grieve. It's still really weird to think he is gone, but we are healing and getting each other through it slowly. I was talking to a neighbor on Wednesday and I had to pause a minute before telling her what happened to Baz. I am holding back crying and "pretending" to be strong, but I'm not strong and as soon as the door closed I let the tears flow. His loss has really knocked the stuffing out of us and taken a bit of our spirit away. I am not ashamed to cry when needed and neither is The Mr., or The Bean. We miss our dog and there's no shame in that.

On a more positive note, we went on a walk last Sunday to an area in Corvallis, Oregon, known as, Willamette Park and Natural Area

There is a space near the back of the park that has a paved walking path with disk golf and a small soccer field in the middle. The section of trail is a "leash-free zone" for dogs. PITA was able to run and be a dog while we ate lunch on a nearby bench facing the Willamette River. It was a nice moment to sit and relax. We happened to sit down just in time to see two bald eagles fly over the water looking for fish. 

We couldn't help but be a bit upset that we didn't find the place before Baz passed. He loved being off of his leash and free. After lunch the three of us walked along the path while PITA ran around us smelling, greeting other dogs and people, and leaving his mark everywhere. We all talked about positive topics and mentioned what a great time Baz would have with us. There were tears, but they were happy tears. It's definitely a place we will visit again in the future. It was a great start to the week, for sure. With that, here are the other things that made this week great.

1. This sign.

Judgement-free zones should exist anyway without a sign needing to be posted. This sign was on a local bookstore in Corvallis, Oregon. It's a shame that we live in a world where such judgement exist and people from all walks of life need sanctuary cities to feel safe. The talk of terrorist crossing the border and plotting to harm us is white noise. Especially, when we have a United States-born citizen taking aim at innocent people enjoying an evening out in Las Vegas. Instead of building walls to keep people out, we need to focus on our own failures as a country that has allowed someone like that to get a hold of weapons that can kill 58 of our U.S. citizens that did nothing to deserve their untimely deaths. Maybe it's time to reevaluate the definition of "terrorism."

2. This book.

At said bookstore, this book was found. Hear! Hear! I love how people are actually creating books of resistance and cooking together. This book above and also this one here, are fantastic! Cook to resist and feed yourself so you can be fueled to get involved!  "The Revolution Must Be Fed!"

3. This tip.

While we are busy here in our house trying desperately to become more waste-free I figured out how to cut toothpicks from everyday use. Instead of testing with a wooden pick whether that delicious yellow cake/bread is done in the middle, use a spaghetti stick. Works just as well as the wooden version for your teeth, but no waste. You can either break off the part you used and add the unused part back to the spaghetti jar, or throw the entire hard strand in the compost.

4. Fresh tuna.

Living near the Pacific Ocean does have its perks when it comes to fresh fish. 

5. Sunset drive.

On the topic of the Pacific Ocean, the sunsets here are the best. View from the Cascade Mountain Range near Hoodoo Ski Area.

Have a great weekend!

Five simple things


The last two weeks has been a bit odd for us. We've been a house without Baz Swells and we miss him dearly. Last week I didn't post a "Five simple things" because I was just too upset to even bring myself to think of anything good that week brought. I spent most of the time from October 1-October 8 just in disbelief and grieving so incredibly much for my sweet Baz. I sort of tortured myself and would wake up in the morning, before getting out of bed, and go back through my pictures of Baz from the day he died- the moment before they injected him, after he was gone, and just cry so hard. I slept with his blanket, which is still hanging over the back of the headboard. I found a towel in the bottom of the dirty clothes basket the other day that smelled like him and I broke down again. It's painful. I was in denial for a few days that he was even gone. Sort of like a mental coping mechanism, I guess. I still miss him terribly. Literally terribly. My heart is in pain and I am waiting desperately for the veterinary office to contact me when his ashes are ready to be picked up. I want him back with us so that I can have some sort of closeness with him again. 16 years and nine months is almost two decades with your animal. Seems like he lived a long time, but to us, it just wasn't long enough.

We are getting a little better with accepting the fact that he is gone, but the pain still hangs around our house. We still break down when we all start talking about him and the things we know he would love. We will see, or feel, or smell signs of him still lingering around in some areas of the house. I found a spot near the washing machine where he had peed in the house without us knowing. If he was alive I would have taken that for granted and punished him, but now that he is gone, I didn't mind cleaning it up and I cried the whole time doing it. It's crazy how much we take little things for granted. It's just dog pee, right? Unfortunately, I won't ever clean up after him again and that's the pain that is lingering. He was a great dog, and I can't stress enough how wonderful he truly was. I promised I wouldn't make this "Friday things" about sad stuff, we really did have a good week, but if you get a moment, please read the blog post I made in honor of our lovely Baz Swells Happy here. It's my way of letting everyone know what kind of dog he was and how he impacted our lives for almost 17 years.

We received his paw prints in the mail a few days back, and they were much needed. We are still waiting on his ashes and I hope that I will be a lot better once we get them. Slowly we've been seeing signs of him little-by-little and here-and-there. I sometimes catch myself talking to people about him in the present tense. I remind myself that he is gone and my heart breaks all over again. I miss him and I know he misses us, but even if this rainbow we saw isn't him, he would desperately want us to know he is okay and he loves us. But I believe it was him and his subtle way of saying, "I love you all and I will see you again." 

Dogs' lives are too short.
Their only fault, really.
-Agnes Sligh Turnbull

So... Not sure how to transition into a normal "Friday things" post, but I will try. Since I didn't post last Friday we've done a few things over the past two weeks. Here are the things that made (the last two weeks) great!

1. Birthday

The Bean celebrated his birthday on September 30 and he turned 14. His birthday was overshadowed by the loss of Baz Swells, but we tried to make it as happy as we could. I reminded everyone that Baz was always happy no matter what and he wouldn't want us to be gloomy on such a good day. So we all bucked up and made the most of it. I even took the time to make him his favorite flavor of cake, strawberry cream. It took my mind off of things for a bit and in all honesty, we were happy.

For the curious, we used candles from Big Dipper Wax Works and the cake and icing mix are from Wholesome Chow (below). I highly recommend both.

2. Hike

The last weekend that Baz was still with us we took a hike on Fitton Green. The hike was just a day hike, but we all, including Baz Swells, had a fun time. Baz always loved to be off of his lease and in the woods hiking with us. It bothers me so much that he was still willing to go go go, but his body gave out on him way too soon. This hike was a fun one and it is one that I am glad we got to share with him. He had a blast and it definitely goes down in our memory books for time spent with Baz before he passed. -My dad said it best shortly after we lost Baz, "They give so much and they take so much." Isn't that the truth.

3. Ducks

Our duckies, Rosey and Happy, are growing. We loved watching them change over the past few weeks. We are hoping they will be good egg layers and we can give duck eggs a go. 

They were such cute ducklings and we are missing the curious, little ducks we brought home in a box. Watching them grow into bigger ducks and learning about us and the yard has been a treat too.

4. Boxes

Always have to give props to Yogi Surprise. The box above is the Lifestyle box for September. Unfortunatly, the first Lifestyle box I received was missing the book and the yoga mat spray had leaked a bit all over everything in the box. I contacted Yogi Surprise right away and they sent another one out promptly. No questions asked. I can not stress enough how great this company is. I love all of the products in each box and with us now eating more USDA Organic items we get to learn about new companies with each box. We love it! 
The Jewelry box from September. I posted this one a few Friday's back, but I thought I would post again with the Lifestyle box to keep them together. You can check out the previous post on this Jewelry box here. I wasn't too crazy about the Rawkin Raw Macaroon, but The Bean loved it, so win win.

Plus, we have really been enjoying the essential oil incense from Auromere. They have really come in handy when dealing with our recent loss. 

The Lifestyle box for October came this past Wednesday and I love it! As always, right? Such a great box filled with some wonderful items that we are going to use for sure!

The Jewelry box for October is below and I am loving the bracelet! I actually have it on right now while I type this post out. 
Grab yourself a Yogi Surprise box here and get on the mailing list for November. 

5. Stowaway Cosmetics

I have been on a hunt to find some smaller, less harsh, easy to pack cosmetics and I think I found them. With our journey to being more minimal it seemed I have an overabundance of makeup that I just wasn't using. Eye makeup from five years ago, lipstick from longer than that, and eye liner is shades I would never wear. I figured it was high time for a change. I ended up bagging up almost all of my makeup that I wasn't going to use and sent it to my sister in Arkansas. I figure she could either get some use out of some of it, or let my niece play with it a bit. That was the closest I could get to recycling it and not throwing it straight in the bin. 

Stowaway is a great company, or at least I like them so far. Their cosmetics come in sizes that you will actually use up and their products are made without the use of dangerous chemicals, cruelty free, gluten free, and almost 100% vegan. The best part of the company is, for every three products you use up you request of prepaid shipping label and send the empties back to be recycled. In return, Stowaway gives you $5 back for future purchases. I will update once I've used mine pictured above for awhile. If you're looking for a change in pace with your makeup routine, give them a try.

If you want to try a new recipe this weekend check out my post on Organic Ranch Potatoes here. They are delicious! Plus, enjoy my new section at the top of the blog about USDA Organic options available. It will contain recipes that are geared around USDA Organic foods and at the bottom of the page it will show products that we recommend that are USDA Organic. I hope you take a moment and look it over.

-A quick thought: "The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end, that's all there is." -Mr. Carson  Downton Abbey: Episode #4.4" (2013)

Have a great weekend and happy Friday the thirteenth!

Organic Ranch Potatoes

We have slowly been making the shift in our house to more organic foods and trying desperately to cut our waste. We've been doing a good job with the waste this far, but getting away from non-organic food habits is a struggle still. It's a slow process, but we are making ourselves do it because it's the right thing for our health and wellness. I found a few USDA Organic sales this past week on canned tomatoes and racked up as much as I could. The thing is, it would have been better to grow all of the tomatoes and can them myself, but this was the first year we've tried our hand at growing Roma tomatoes in raised beds and we only had three plants. I am thinking next year one entire raised bed needs to be for growing Romas and I can learn more about how to can tomatoes over the next year. As for now, we had great luck with potatoes in our garden. We grew red potatoes and also gave a go at some Yukon golds. We have stored a lot of them already, but the growing process of potatoes goes clear into the cold season, which I love. I am hoping for a good crop of broccoli and lettuce varies we are growing right now, too. With all of the potatoes I have been coming up with great ideas on what to cook them with and how to cook them alone. One of the good ones I've come across is the ranch potatoes recipe below. The Mr. and The Bean love them and I hope it becomes a staple in your house too, like it has in ours.

Organic Ranch Potatoes

What you'll need:

Olive oil (Make sure it bares the USDA Organic label)
Dry Ranch Dip seasoning (2 packages) (We used Simply Organic's USDA Organic Ranch Dip Mix)
Organic Potatoes (about 10)

What to do:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

Wash and remove any blemishes from the potatoes. Take your time on this step to make sure there are no "bad" spots on your potatoes. After washing and prepping, slice into thin, even slices. I used red and Yukon gold potatoes for this recipe and they both baked up nicely. The thicker the slices the less chance of the thinner slices burning. 

Drizzle olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet. Lay the slices on a baking sheet-slightly overlapping just a bit. 

In a separate bowl add a cup of olive oil and one package of the Ranch Dip mix and whisk. Pour over the top of half of the slices making sure to cover them completely. Repeat the same steps above with the second half of the potatoes. Shake on a handful of salt over the potatoes and a handful of pepper-or to taste. (if you are cutting back salt in your diet, skip this step)

Place baking sheet in the middle of the oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.

Serve hot and enjoy!

(As with any recipe, be sure to use quality, non-gmo, organic ingredients)