Tuesday, June 29, 2010

: Wash Wednesday :

~Wash Wednesday~
~Inspired by GardenMama~
~Celebrated by many~

There were very few of these flowers in my yard, so as I was capturing a shot for "Nature", I realized there was more to this photo than I initially recognized.

: Tuesday : Creations :

Creations....this can come in so many forms.....I have been creating music lately....I am 95% finished with the quilt......we have been creating many memories recently.......

......And I have finished these knitted bandanas. They are essentially identical to the purple one from a few weeks back. That and the green one are both made of yarn from recycled material and the variegated brown edition is 100% Peruvian wool. They are so comfy! Excuse the blurry self-portraits of me...it was about 1am when I took those shots. I was pretty worn out. :)

I enjoy this project because I can do it anytime, anywhere without referring to a pattern. However, next time I will find some fabric in my stash and sew a few....light weight, Summery, and quick to make. By the way, I was just thinking that brown yarn would make excellent Winter socks...hmmm. I should jot down these ideas..... Oh, yes, and I think I will make a Summer picnic blanket with that stack of retro pillow cases, as suggested by Renee, and I might follow this simple tutorial from Rhythm of the Home. And that is all for now. I am certain there will be more next week.

Monday, June 28, 2010

: Monday : Nourishment :

Food this last week has been very tasty, as usual. But I think we overdid the sweets a bit. Maybe we will mellow out on that this week. Check out some of these recipes below.

Raw Vege and Fruit Salad
The other night I made this raw vegetable and fruit salad, accompanied by the quiche shown below. The recipe and variations can be found here. Essentially the recipe included 1 cup each of finely chopped cabbage, celery, and spinach, along with 2 each sliced peaches, pears (we used asian pears...crisp and sweet), and apples. Lastly it called for the addition of walnuts. You can toss it in your favorite dressing or leave it plain. We left it plain and all of the kids kept eating it right up, as we had it with lunch and dinner for a couple of days in a row. No complaints, just happy tastebuds and tummies.

Fresh Corn Quiche
Here is the fresh corn quiche I just spoke of. It was delicious! I usually make a homemade wheat crust for my various quiches because it is tastier and healthier than the store-bought crusts. It stays together better, too, free of sogginess. The recipe for the crust and the quiche is as follows....
Whole Wheat Pie Crust

1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
5 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into a few pieces
3-4 tablespoons cold water
Combine your dry ingredients in a large bowl. Rub in butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a very coarse meal. There should some pea sized pieces as well as some sand sized pieces. Pour in water and press dough together with your hands until it comes together into a ball. Add a bit more water if necessary. Wrap dough disc in plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour if you want to use it right away. Alternatively, you could refrigerate it for 4 hours, or until ready to use. Roll out on a floured surface. Makes 1 crust.

Fresh Corn Quiche

3 large eggs
1/2 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon wheat or all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups half and half
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 2 ears) or frozen, thawed
1 pre-prepared wheat pie crust

You want to preheat the oven to 375 degrees or equivelant and get your crust in a 9-inch pie dish (we used a cake pan because our moss garden is occupying our pie dish). Blend the first 5 ingredients for a moment. Add the next 2 ingredients and then transfer to a bowl. Mix in the corn and pour into your crust. Now you want to bake until filling is slightly puffed and top is golden, about 50 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool slightly. Serve warm.

Kabobs with Rasberry Dijon Vinaigrette
On Jared's birthday, we made these kabobs on the barbecue with a delicious rasberry dijon vinaigrette, which included 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 small shallots, minced (3 tablespoons), 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, 2/3 cup olive oil, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary. You simple together vinegar, mustard, shallots, lemon juice, and lemon zest in small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until mixture thickens or emulsifies. Stir in rosemary, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Allow your choice veges, tofu, poultry, and or meat selection to marinate. Cook on the grill and periodically brush your food with the leftover marinade.

Lemon Fairy Cakes
On Fairy Day, we decided to make Fairy Cakes, which are essentially the phrase for cupcakes in the UK. When making the icing, Jared decided on a soft yellow, since it was flavored with fresh lemon, and matching magic fairy dust sprinkles. The recipe for both the cakes and the icing can be found at Once Upon a Plate.

Decadent Chocolate Cake
Lastly, the cake topper (and the cake).

Decadent Chocolate Cake

Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups wheat flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter pans and sprinkle with flour. Add parchment paper if you like (I was fine without it). In a large bowl, sift your dry ingredients together. In another bowl, combine everything else, except the coffee. Add the wet to the dry. Once well mixed, add the coffee. Pour into your pans equally and bake 35-40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely on a wire cooling rack before applying your frosting.
Chocolate Frosting
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Heat the chocolate in a double boiler so it is just melted. Cool for a moment. In a bowl, whip your butter 'til creamy. Then, add yoke and vanilla and whip for a couple minutes. Add sugar and mix well. Mix coffee with 2 teaspoons of hot tap water. Add chocolate and coffee mixture to the butter mixture. Mix gently now. Spread immediately onto your cake. Create a layer on your bottom cake, top it with the other cake, and spread evenly on the top of your cake, and around the sides. Put any toppings you like atop the finished cake. Chill for later or dig in! It was absolutely delicious...both the cake and the frosting (and I don't even like frosting).

So, I hope you can enjoy one or more of these recipes. We certainly did. Have a great week and get cooking.....and baking.

: Sunday : Reflection :

It is hot, hot, hot!! Almost too hot, but I can't complain because I was so fed up with the cold for so long. Even now, late at night, it is icky sticky. We enjoyed ourselves on a hike along our local lake, actually a couple today. It always seems to be among the easiest, cheapest, most stimulating activities for the children. And it is always better when their Dad joins us.

Daniel has been very thoughtful of us lately, spending more time with us when truly he should be studying. He has been spectacular at juggling our need to engage with him, and his ability to get in enough reading and absorption to fully learn and do well when meeting the demands of his education. I don't think I could do the same. Such focus and determination. It is admirable. Although, I highly recommend going to school before having children. It is tough, really tough, but it will be rewarding in the end. Next Sunday, he will have 5 months to go...Sounds so short, but feels so looong. :)

So, this last week we decided to plant pumpkins, more squash, carrots, radishes, chard, sugar snap peas, Oregon sugar pods, and sunflowers. I figured I better get these in the ground before it is totally too late, though it might still be too late. I also planted rosemary, oregano, dill, and basil in several pots. The beans I had in the ground already are doing quite well, as are the beets. My hotbed seems to work extremely well, too! Everything is up and rockin' hard. The cucumbers and melons are fabulous and just about ready to be transplanted to their new homes in the garden. The various tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are following close behind. I wish I would have started many of these earlier in the season, but we will see how these all turn out. I made a cloche for the strawberries because that morning we saw another beautiful strawberry almost ready for picking and a couple hours later, it was half eaten by a bird, I assume. Oh well, live and learn.

I have picked up my guitar several times this last week, which is rejuvinating and lovely as a background for the boys while they play. Sometimes, I don't want to create something permanent, like a quilt or a toy for the boys. I want to create art in an impermanent fashion...the flowing of melodic sound that comes and goes within the moment. It is so good for the soul to play live music and to be in the presence of live music. I love it!!!

Additionally, I have noticed that I have hardly paid any attention to anything going on in the world with as close an eye as I once did. We used to keep up with several causes, write letters to Congress, spread the word, make donations to various organizations...., but this recession and being frighteningly on the edge financially has made us redirect our focus back onto mainly us. I really should do more reading, even though we cannot financially help others anymore. If anyone is interested in supporting a cause, check out this small handful:

There are several more, but these ones are a great start. Despite my farm dream, I want to physically help in the world somewhere, somehow.... Though taking care of a farm is more than a full-time job, depending upon how extensive and how self-sustaining, I still would like to carve out a period of time when the children are far older to help in a third world country or at a natural disaster, or something along those lines. You know, volunteer for several months to perhaps a year on a global scale. It is so far off, but truly, when my family and I are in good health and living comfortably and happy from day to day, it is only fair and right to give to others who are far less fortunate than us. How is it fair that my life is good and there are so many others in the world enduring such suffering? I just have to give back....when I can.

Well, I guess that concludes this week's reflection. I am so tired and my brain is like scrambled eggs...I can no longer think straight. Off to bed...

Have a great week and enjoy your Summer's beginning (and Winter for many of you....by the way, enjoy the cool for me).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

: Saturday : Journey :

~ Happy Birthday, Jared!! ~

Jared's official birthday was Tuesday and we did most of our official celebrating on the day of, though we continued on Saturday. The beautiful sunny day began with a birthday breakfast. This included yogurt with strawberries and blueberries, hot cocoa, scrambled eggs with ketchup, and chocolate pancakes. I was trying to aim for breakfast in bed, but he woke up far earlier than I had predicted. He curled up in a ball and looked at books while I prepared his meal fit for a young prince.

We have never celebrated with a birthday ring before this year. He sat down and actually spent a good portion of time playing with the little characters and rearranging them.

...5 times around the sun....
For those who are puzzled by this picture, it is a spiral path I "carved" out of the weeds. This is a path traveled 5 times in Jared's case because it represents 5 years having passed in his journey of life. Going around the sun simulates the Earth's travel in a year's time. Jared, of course traveled this path several times for the fun of it, accompanied by his brothers.

Sporting the Summer Solstice/Birthday Crown

Grandma's lovely wrapping and personalized card...

A look of approval...Jared and Dylan each received a wooden boat for bathtime, which alleviates a lot of potential headaches if they were to have to share just one. They immediately tested them out for quite some time. The sound of splashes and excited voices filled the house.

Ah, yes. The gnomes. Both the younger boys really appreciated these. I overheard several conversations between the gnomes as I sat nearby and Jared built a walkway and some stairs for them so they could come and go as they pleased.

Facilitating the fresh lemonade.....Oh man, it was tasty...and I don't even care for lemonade generally.

This is a fantastic chocolate cake, whose recipe for both the cake and the chocolate frosting must be shared. Perhaps, I will post the recipe on Monday. Jared, for the last 2 years, has spoken of always wanting a chocolate cake with strawberries and blueberries, so I finally made him one.
Additionally, we went on a hike, as usual, watched a doggie movie, and just spent some time together, leaving it up to Jared what he wanted to do at any given time.

To the park on Saturday...

Mommy-dyed earthy play silks.

Checkers finally unveiled...

I spent all morning, and the night before, trying to finish Jared's quilt, but I still have to finish the binding. He is already excited to use it, as he has watched the process of it having been put together. I guess it really doesn't matter if it was done by his birthday or a week thereafter. I hope to feature it by Tuesday.

Otherwise, he had a wonderful week and celebration. He is so proud to be 5 years old, as I have never seen him before about his age. I am proud of him. These moments, no matter how they come, must be savored and remembered because they are among the beautiful elements to their path of life. 

Additionally, I preceded his birthday with a sweet little poem that he must have had me repeat to him a hundred times! It goes a little something like this:

When I have said my evening prayer,
And my clothes are folded on the chair,
And Mother switches off the light,
I'll still be 4 years old tonight.
But from the very break of day,
Before the children rise and play,
Before the darkness turns to gold,
Tomorrow, I'll be 5 years old.
5 kisses when I wake,
5 candles on my cake!

Happy Birthday, Jared! I look forward to guiding you through your sixth year.


Friday, June 25, 2010

: Friday : Moment :

~This Moment ~ Inspired by Soulemama ~ No Words ~
~ Just a photo from a memorable moment within the past week~

Okay, so I broke the rule yet again with a little caption in the photo, but I just had to describe the very essence of that pleased look on his face.

~ Grateful For... ~











Thursday, June 24, 2010

: Furthermore : Sunset :

~Mountain Bike Ride Sunset~

Intense blue canvas of the approaching dim,

Luminous burnt orange abaft oak tree limb,

Strokes of watercolor in peach, violet, and apricot,

Boundless painting overhead evokes such deep thought.

~By Me

This is a poem I wrote this evening after taking a late bike ride. The colors in the sky were so very inspiring, I simply had to put it into words when I got home, especially since I didn't have my camera with me...I usually don't on my bike....I really don't care too much for stopping and going when I am riding....
Anyway, have a great evening and reflect on things you love, as well.


: Furthermore : Fairies :

Fairy Day

It is National Fairy Day today, I recently discovered. So, Jared and I were doing a little celebrating in our own way. We made a fantastic fairy/gnome home outside, we've been reading some fairy-related books and poems, and we will do some baking later, perhaps sprinkled with magic fairy dust..I haven't decided exactly what we are to make yet.

My tutorial can be found here.

 This day, I suspect, would be very intriguing for little girls, as well as for little boys. So, enjoy the wonder and magic if you and your little ones are observing this day.

: Thursday : Nature :

Summer Begins

~Down by the river~

~Blackberries before they are even blackberries~

~Unlikely Beauty~

~Around our Neighborhood~

~Cute Critters~

~Resplendent Roses~

Ah, the sweet smells....the radiant colors....the shadows cast by the sun and trees....the precious impermanence....the warmth....Summer is here. Look around and enjoy it to the fullest using all of your senses.