Friday, April 30, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

True ‘dat

" We often learn lessons in simple and everyday ways."
Pearl S. Buck


Collecting Spring

As I have mentioned before, one of my favorite blogs is SouleMama. Though she fully cops to the fact that it’s far from the case in her home some days, her blog resonates a serenity I crave many days with my three and the comings and goings and nonstop noise-noise-noise of it all. So, nearly every morning I spend a moment with my coffee and Amanda Soule, who is a special kind of teacher in many ways. She’s younger than me, but I want to be her when I grow up. :)

One idea of her ideas has been fully incorporated into our home. She calls it their Nature Table, a place where the odd pine cone, shell, rock, etc. finds its way inside to be enjoyed. We refer to the idea as “Collecting.” We collect each season, taking time to really notice the changes brought to our little part of the world, and attempting to create a little bit of beauty indoors in a nonconventional way.

Spring is coming upon us in fits and false starts this year. The sun and warmth are playing hard to get, and rain seems reluctant to give up its hold. Don’t get me wrong: I much prefer this knowledge that we will have water this summer, that our community supported agriculture share will supply our family with a bountiful variety of local, organic produce—not just kale, kale, and more {sigh} kale--, and that maybe, just maybe it won’t be in the 110+ degree range as much this summer. I am not complaining much about the rain we’re getting this spring!

So, yeah… spring. We’ve been bringing all manner of fresh flowers. My boys are oh so eager to bring me bouquets of all sorts, much to my delight and often to my husband’s dismay because he has been nursing a few plants along during the past two bone dry summers. The three of them are trying to reach a detente, agreeing upon good '”picking candidates” and trying to remember which plants are verboten. In their gusto, the boys see them all as good, and there are little arrangements all over our home brightening up the kitchen sink, and other unexpected areas.


At this time, my favorite objet is the bird’s nest Carter made at preschool. The “nest” is only a paper bag with a bit of this ‘n’ that, and some eggs Carter made out of play dough, but it’s precious to us all and has been a bit of a mobile installation, finding its way all around the ‘front’ of the house, with a little help, or course. My bird-loving fellow beams with pride over his creation, as does his mama.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cookin’ the Book": Pioneer Woman’s Warm Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce


Sunday I tried another recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  I’m trying to fit in at least two recipes a week with the goal of trying every one of her recipes--in the book, not her site!--by June 2010.

Spur of the moment, we had a few people over for dinner and I love an excuse to make dessert—so I did!  If I were a pragmatic woman, I’d have thought more carefully about the timing of a peach crisp, since it’s not exactly peach season here yet.  Undaunted by any kind of reality, I chose what seemed like decent fresh Chilean peaches from a big-chain grocery store.  That was my mistake: their produce is sketchy on a good day when buying something locally in season. I figured 7 peaches should be enough- but out of those, 4 were black inside and the other three were grey and the tiny specks of edible looking areas in them tasted like, well, nothing.  We’re talking flavorless.  BLECH!  Lesson learned.

By coincidence, I’d bought a large jar of Trader Joe’s very awesome peaches just a couple of days prior, so it was time to face facts and make do.

We loved the dessert so much I completely forgot to take a photo.  The crisp itself is good, but I really need to make it again sometime in peach season to give the recipe a fair shake.  The maple cream sauce was insane, insane I tell you!  The next morning it was great on my daughter’s oatmeal, and we also liked it straight up on some sliced strawberries.  What I’m saying is that sauce is worth the entire recipe, in my opinion.

You can find the recipe along with photos detailing its preparation HERE.  It’s a great, simple dessert.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cookin’ the Book: Pioneer Woman’s “Penne alla Betsy”


Wednesday I made a new recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  I’m attempting to cook every one of her recipes (in the book, not her site!) by June 2010… however a series of illnesses and a couple of injuries in my family caused me to fall off the ol’ wagon for about 6 weeks.  Then, I completely forgot about it for another couple of weeks… We shall see how this affects my goal.  :)

Pasta alla Betsy, so named because it’s Pioneer Woman’s sister’s recipe, seemed like a good way to put my toes back in the water with this cookbook.  After thinking for a while, I realized I could serve the shrimp & tomato cream sauce over cooked greens for my carb-avoiding husband, and serve it up as written for the rest of us.

It’s a great, straight forward recipe.  I have to admit I was kind of underwhelmed, and I think were I to make it again, I’d try to tweak it to help the sauce be more flavorful.  That said, it did that ‘so much better the next day’ trick when I had leftovers for lunch.  I’ll give it a thumbs-up, but not ‘way’ up.

You can find the recipe, along with detailed photos of its preparation HERE.  Mangia!

Friday, April 23, 2010

♥ this perfume!

♥ this perfume!, originally uploaded by Kristianna.

I am insanely picky about fragrance. I think it all began back in the 7th or 8th grade when I was partnered in the computer lab with a girl who wore some musky perfume that made my throat feel like I had strep. Everyday I had to sit there and *feel* that perfume, which she obviously adored--or bought in huge quantity and was stuck using. Ugh, it was a semester of torture!

Anyway, as a result, I only like very light, citrus or floral fragrances. Even those, I wear rarely. Generally, I suppose I figure people should not smell me at all. :)

This perfume, however? I love-love-love it! It is delicate without any cloying qualities, has musk in it, but only the barest hint, and is a perfume dream. I have been spritzing this on nearly every morning for a couple of weeks now, and am thinking, as it's a limited edition, this will have to be stockpiled a wee bit (hello Mother's Day gift from me to me!)...

Check it at Sephora, the only place it's sold.

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Creepy, Crawly

If you hate insects or whatever the heck snails are, look away quickly!

My kids love the creepers, peepers, and crawlies.

Last week they went bug hunting with Jacob and Zachary and made a snail mansion!  Maybe it was a so-called McMansion… it didn’t have much lawn.  :)


The kids even provided a buffet of lemons, limes, and flowers.

Ungrateful boogers left as soon as they could--the nerve!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Very Special Visitor

Carter’s class has a ‘pet gorilla’, Bubbles, who goes home with one lucky child each Thursday to spend the weekend.  This past weekend was Carter’s turn with Bubbles.  Here’s what I prepared to go inside Bubbles’ journal to remember and share their time together.

Bubbles Visits Carter

April 16 19, 2010

Carter was really happy when it was his turn to bring home Bubbles!

Thursday afternoon and evening Bubbles got to know his new home for the weekend. We read his favorite story, and took a nice nap before playing some. They also watered the plants.


Friday Carter had swim lessons and a playdate at a buddy’s house, so Bubbles hung out with his new buddies, the orangutangs.


Saturday Bubbles came on a hike to visit Deer Hollow Farm at Rancho San Antonio. The baby animals were adorable, and Carter took Bubbles inside a hollow tree!


Monday Carter took Bubbles to Happy Hollow.  Bubbles was not tall enough to ride anything, but cheered Carter on as he tried out a few new ones and enjoyed some old favorites.

Bubbles couldn’t believe Carter rode The Frog Hopper twice!


Bubbles liked monkeying around with Carter in the redwood play structure the most of all--so much climbing and sliding!  They could have stayed all day.


However, all too soon it was time to head home.  The two pals could not resist a little nap in the car.  After a fun visit like that, who could blame them?  It was a perfect end to a fun visit.  We’ll miss Bubbles, but are happy to have made a new friend.


Bye, Bubbles!  Have fun visiting the next family!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Such a big boy!

I'll be writing more about our first trip to Happy Hollow in almost exactly two years later, but had to share this. I am still floored Carter rode this twice!

Friday, April 16, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My own… Personal… Savior…

Memory Lane Alert! (This one time, at band camp…)

Some people would shy away from hamburgers served with eggs on them. Perhaps they don’t eat meat. Perhaps they don’t like eggs. Perhaps the thought of the two cohabitating in a bun is a bit much for them to, um… stomach.

Cheesy, all the way…

I am not one of those people.

Some people will only grace the interior of the Texas Inn in my hometown or the White Spot where I went to school when, shall we say, recovering from a night of excess. They’d only gobble down a Cheese Western or a Gus Burger to stop their spinning heads or because they’d never remember it the next day.

Gus Burger

I am not one of those people, either.

Oh, I have sat at the counters at both establishments and slurred out an order in the wee hours. I mean, hey!, those greasy burgers do something to settle an unhappy stomach, and the little Cokes from the T Room were manna in times of need.


However, I’ll happily eat at these places stone sober. Paul and I skipped out on the meal we were being served at his (or maybe my?) 10 year reunion to go have Spot Specials! I believe we had Krispy Kremes warm off the griddle a la mode for dessert. (Yum.)


Bun and I have a date to go just the two of us to the T Room this summer when out on our annual pilgrimage. I hope I am choosing wisely… so hard to choose which should be her first—the scrambled Cheesy or the fried Gus? These are the hard decisions we parents face all the time!

Anyway, one late night, when I was at The Spot after last call, meeting my monthly cholesterol requirements in a single meal, a scruffy gentleman to my left had something he needed to tell me. See, at both The Spot and T Room, you’re liable to run across some of your more colorful eating companions: the kind who’ll, if you’re receptive, provide you with all manner of interesting entertainment and invaluable information.

He’ll save you!

Pardon? Aside from Paul and the man cooking behind the counter, I was the only person there at the time. I did that thing—you know, where you look behind you just in case there is someone else who could possibly be the intended recipient of such a statement. It was only me.

He’ll save you and keep you well. You see. You will see!

Blink. Blink. (Such was my eloquent response: staring and blinking.)

My mind was searching… searching… What could this man mean? The Almighty? The guy was certainly one of, shall we say, the unwashed masses, but that didn’t mean he was not religious. It also didn’t mean he was not unpredictable and prone to verbal or physical outburst if I went with my standard wiseass proclivities. Maybe he meant God! Maybe he meant the University Police Officer who was strolling up and down the street (though Officer Handy, as we called him, seemed unlikely to be of any help to anyone on this earth, unless they needed help accepting a ticket for open container violations).

Who is going to save me?

Him! He will do it. You see.

My new buddy pointed at the grubby, mute TV up in the corner.

Blink. Blink.

This is what I saw.


It’s been about 16 years, but I won’t declare this prophecy a dud quite yet.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Camporee for 2

This past weekend was the mother-Brownie Camporee for a few troops in our neck of the woods. We’ve been looking forward to this since last fall. For me, time to reconnect with my oldest child. For her, time away from those little brothers!

We packed up to head over the mountain and through the woods—literally!—on Friday afternoon after I started one last load of dishes in the dishwasher, and pleaded with the boys to be good and listen to Daddy. A few hundred smothering kisses, and I was as ready to go as I’d ever be. I really did love the thought of all that time with Bunny, without stopping seven times during each sentence to fill a sippy cup, pry apart two fighting boys, slap a band aid on a phantom boo boo, wipe off a cheek (face or butt), wipe up a spill, pry apart train tracks, or burp Cole’s baby doll for him—but I also love doing all those things for the little guys, so the reality of two days without my boys was a hard leap to take. I think I said goodbye 14 times. Maybe 15.

Once some miles were behind us, though, the excitement of camping with the moms and girls took over. I love camping, and this was Bunny’s first camping trip ever! Setting up was ever so easy, since there were platform tents and cots. Compared to how Paul and I camped our way across the country a couple of lives ago, this was LUXURY camping.


The two troops from Bun’s elementary school were in Meadowlark campsite. Talk about gorgeous scenery! The trees are so thick and tall here. One thing I have always appreciated about our area is that nature has been very consciously preserved, and in a decent abundance.

Our first evening comprised of checking in, eating the dinners we brought in, doing a few crafts in the mess hall, and hanging out by the campfire.


No campfire is complete without S’mores!

Bunny had a difficult time adjusting to the new sleeping arrangements, and was not at her most rested the next morning. Thankfully she was able to fuel up on cocoa, and I was able to guzzle coffee, along with a plentiful breakfast.

Tired girl of nature here. :)

Saturday was filled with activities.

Bunny learned to tie a square knot.

She learned to build three kinds of fire. She also learned to whittle—albeit with a plastic knife and bar of Dial soap. :)

We went on a beautiful hike to Fern Grove and built a fairy house.

Some free play time was also afforded. Bun and her friends had a wonderful time exploring the woods without us moms. It was so nice, in this day and age of kids not being able to roam, to simply tell them to stay with their buddy and let ‘em have at it—and to be sure to be back before dinnertime.

The lovely banana slug…

Before dinner, we warmed up by the huge fire they built in the mess hall. This fire was to keep the large room warm during the skit and song performance after mealtime, but Bunny was tired of large crowds and noise by then. I was too, so we opted to head back to the campsite, where she played with another troop friend who had come to the same conclusion about noise and crowds.

They had a blast running around in the gloaming, sure they saw both fairies and a few zombies. Every once in a while they’d scurry back to the camp, squealing about a new discovery: I heard a ghost, a GHOOOST! Well, maybe it was a crow…

Meanwhile, I built a rather fabulous fire all by myself, which was roaring by the time everyone else returned from the skits. Bunny has insisted I add this: she did assist me by ripping cardboard pieces to kindle the fire. :)

More S’mores and some singing… then time to hit the sack. We slept like the dead that night! Fresh air and a full day will do that to you. The trees were singing in the wind all night, but Bunny sawed logs.

The next morning a big storm was blowing in, and the one whiff of the sausages they were cooking up for breakfast helped Bunny make a decision. I want to have breakfast in Santa Cruz.

Done and done-er. :)

Cafe Brasil was the perfect end to our camping trip. I think that may just have to be a tradition!


Monday, April 12, 2010

Menu Monday – Produce, Produce, Produce

Monday already? I guess it is time to plan what we’ll eat, then. :) I have a bounty of produce to plow through, having been camping with Bunny from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning, and then choosing to make a simple chili for dinner last night.

Here is what we got last week in the CSA share.


So much remains, and Thursday evening pick-up looms… Yowzer! We’ve eaten all but the two largest artichokes, which I’ll steam for dinner tonight. I’ll make broccoli soup with the broccoli and one leek. I’m itching to get up and roast those beets right away. There are a couple of new-to-us greens, one of which is tatsoi. I found a recipe for Chilled Wilted Tatsoi Salad Recipe with Sesame-Ginger Dressing that I’m also going to make today…

Must keep brain storming! Bear with me as I think aloud. :)

Monday: Salmon, artichokes, tatsoi salad, roasted beets
Tuesday: Sausages, braised collard rapini, green salad (oak leaf lettuce, radishes)
Wednesday: Zucchini ‘ribbon’ “Lasagna” (strips of lasagna in place of noodles)
Thursday: Roasted chicken with mizuna & roast pear salad
Friday: Crust-less Pizza Quiche, braised chard
Saturday: Beef & Veggie Soup
Sunday: Grilled Eggplant & Capicole Parmigiana, salad (based on linked recipe)

Friday, April 09, 2010

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

For the Love of Story Time

Cole has a new favorite story.  All parents know that feeling… the dread and guilt the story you know a little too well brings on.

Your little one comes toddling up, favorite story in hand.  You’re so glad they enjoy it.   You’re soooo tired of reading it.  Eventually, because story time love can be fickle, the book changes.  Sometimes it makes you miss the older one really quickly.

Boom, boom, boom!

My not so quiet 2 year-old stomps my direction, as I am cleaning the kitchen counter for the umpteenth time that morning.

Stowwy!  Read!

Oh, Honey… I don’t think…

Stowwy!   Pwease!

But, it’s…  That’s…

Stowwy!  STOWWY!

Alright.  Story. (big sigh)

We sit.  I open and begin to read.

Heat oven to 275.  Remove all wrapping from ham, including plastic disk…

See, our Easter ham came with directions in a little pamphlet, and Cole knows a good story when he sees it.  You have no idea how many times I have had to read it to him this week.  NO IDEA.



Monday, April 05, 2010

Menu Plannin’ Monday: Under the Wire


With all these veggies hanging out ‘round these here parts, I have to get my act together making sure to include them all in the meals—no point in getting fresh, organic CSA veggies if we don’t eat ‘em! :) So far we’ve done pretty well with last week’s haul: artichokes were steamed and eaten both fresh and with the hearts scrambled into eggs on Saturday morning, green garlic has been standing in for regular garlic whenever possible, we had undone cabbage roll skillet, the beets & greens were pretty tasty, rutabaga was roasted and mashed into cauliflower (honestly, we didn’t like it much), and braised collard rapini played nicely with the Easter ham.

Can you believe we still have a good bit more to eat before Thursday’s pick up? The cool thing about how fresh these veggies are is they KEEP. Unlike the produce at a major grocer, this stuff was picked only 1-3 days before I had it in my grubby hands, so sometimes it’s fine to let it linger in the fridge for a couple of weeks (Russian Kale, I might be talkin’ to you).

Here’s my menu plan so far, with recipes linked where possible.

Monday: Mixed Greens & Sprouts w/ Oranges & Balsamic Chicken (this will help with the sprouts and radishes)
Tuesday: Vegetable Beef Soup in Crock
Wednesday: Ham & Leek Crust-less Quiche w Braised Yellow Chard
Thursday: Roasted 8-Piece Chicken w/Onions and veggie TBD
Friday - Sunday: TBD

While the pickup is not until Thursday evening, the weekly newsletter from our CSA is emailed on Tuesday, so I will be able to plan more fully tomorrow morning before grocery shopping. I’m thinking of making a gumbo and working in a salmon dinner somewhere… we shall see.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Forget the Pot of Gold—Eat the Rainbow!

For my firstborn’s birthday treat, she requested I make rainbow cupcakes.  This was a surprise, since she’d chosen brownies with frosting a month ago.  Ah well, we’re all entitled to change our minds, right?  Sharing your birthday treat in class is one of those awesome-to-be-a-kid moments, and I’m inclined to do almost anything I can possibly pull off to meet a request.

So, yes, rainbow cupcakes.  It seemed like it would be pretty easy, conceptually, and they were not hard.  They were time-consuming, though!


To go a little easy on myself, I used boxed cake mix.  I prepared according to instructions, but before it was mixed enough, I divided the batter into smaller bowls, added gel food coloring, and mixed to incorporate it.  I don’t know if it mattered one tiny bit, but I decided that it would be a good idea to add the coloring before the batter was completely smooth, thinking about gluten and how it toughens cakes.  With a box mix it’s probably impossible to overwork the flour, though… I don’t know.  :)

I layered spoonfuls of each color in rainbow order first one way…

…then another, because I get bored far too easily.  :)


After all the ‘baby’ cakes were cooled, I colored frosting in the same five colors.  Bunny’s idea was for me to color each cupcake one color, and have rows of each color, like a real rainbow.  Upon reflection, this would have been a much simpler option than what I chose to do…

I did have a reason for this, however.  After attending about 35,746 kiddie birthday parties (and counting!!), I knew what would happen if there were 5 each of red, orange, green, blue, and purple.  "I want the blue one!  Why didn’t I get the blue one??”  All moms worth their stretchmarks know: with toys and desserts variety is NOT a good thing.  Uniformity = happiness.

Bunny was happy to share these with her classmates, and they all seemed happy to gobble them down.  They were pretty on the inside, too.  :)


Friday, April 02, 2010

Our Share of Goodness

“Ultimately, the most important aspect of nutrition is not what we eat but how our relationship to food can teach us who we are and how we sustain ourselves at the deepest level of being. "
- Marc David

I am so happy to have rejoined our CSA this year! Yesterday was the first pick up of the 2010 season. It looks to be a good one after a winter with—yes!!--enough rain. I enjoy the challenge to incorporate a variety of delicious and wholesome foods into our diet, and the ‘you get what we give you’ aspect of a CSA share means I have to move out of the rut of making the same half dozen veggies over and over… and over

Cooking, to me, is about novelty and experimentation. I’d happily try a new meal five nights every week, 52 weeks of the year, if only the children would happily eat everything I desire to try to make! I shouldn’t complain, as even my picky Middle has been eating a decent variety of fruit lately. Hey, you take what small victories you can get sometimes. :)

Here is what was included in our ‘family’ share this week:


We received collard "rapini" (in the bag, top left), red russian kale (next bag, working clockwise), sprouts 'salad' mix - sunflower, pea, buckwheat, broccoli and radish (also bagged), red beets (with green tops), yellow chard, leeks, green garlic (looks like small leeks), carrots, cabbage, french breakfast radishes, fuji apples, strawberries, artichokes, and rutabagas (bagged, lower left corner).

The artichokes were steamed to go with last night’s dinner, and we’ve almost nibbled away all the strawberries. Cole polished off one of the apples last night. Having heard over and over that oven roasted beets are far better than boiled beets, I decided to find a recipe and came up with THIS. Rather than wait until the end of the day, I decided the oven would warm up this rainy and chilly day and made it already. I will say this: I like roasted beets with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper! I like them, Sam I Am!


I am a firm believer that, if you don’t like a food one way, that does not mean you won’t like it another way. Also, it can take 10-20 times tasting something for it to taste good if the flavor is strong… in a nutshell, try, try, and try again!

To that end, I am hopeful that we’ll find a way to stomach enjoy the rutabagas. :)

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


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