Thursday, May 26, 2011

We interrupt this broadcast ...

Though I feel that I am infrequently here lately, I just wanted to direct you to my Mondo Beyondo site where I think I will be spending some quality time for a few weeks.

365 :: 144

Smoke Tree


This second round is doing good things for me and giving me the Uumph! I needed to feel a little more connected. Feel free to read along as it goes.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Yeah, yeah. Could not resist. It's just that I did wonder a little, you know?
But rather than go down the line of commenting on the latest failed prediction of the end of the world as we know it, I thought I would put up a few pictures that I have been, well, raptured by lately.

Flowers, what is it about the things that just make me feel 'beauty' as it should be? I love the full blown roses just as much the wild nasturium and the tiny blooms from an herb. They are just all good.

Mama Day Bouquet

"Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Mary Oliver

Nasturium Blossoms
Chamomile flowers (?)

It is a good question even when not cast in the light of doomsday predictions. I think I mentioned I am taking Mondo Beyondo again. I need a catalyst, something to remind me that dreaming is okay, that asking the Universe to help us is okay.

I will be posting Mondo stuff over at my 'other' site, if only to be able to track this process a little easier. Feel free to drop in anytime and maybe join in if you feel like it is time to find out just what it is you dream about. If you click the link over on the sidebar it will take you to registration, week 0 just ended and week 1 begins Monday so there is time to hop in (I think :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Homage to Vintage

Hand Work :: Vintage Quilts
Saturday I visited a Quilt Show at one of our local libraries. It was small and earnest and featured many vintage quilts that came from family of the quilting circle. Each had a little tag telling the story of the quilt if it was known. And each one drew me in, close, closer to study the lines of its life.

There is something so special, so spectacular to me in those long lines of stitches. Up close, closer, you can feel the work and the hands that did the work. It is hard to imagine the patience, the ability to see the completion of the project in the quilter. Some of the pieces were so intricate, some of the stories behind the quilts so lovely and meaningful.
Quilt Show :: Vintage
Quilt Show :: Vintage

There is something about handwork that draws me close, closer. I wish for that ability, that patience. The women and men who made these pieces likely had busy lives, full of the work of home and hearth and maybe more work outside of the home. But they still found that place, of creation and necessity and because of it, these beautiful peces of artwork embrace and warm people, passing down and down to be held and used and loved.
Quilt Show :: Vintage

They hold such energy. They hold such life for me. That quiet walk through the tiny quilt show was the inspiration and reminder that I needed. That there is value in this handwork, there is life.
Quilt Show :: Vintage

And so I thought I would share it with you to call you too to that which inspires you. Be it stitch and cloth or fiber and stick, eye and viewfinder or soil and sprout, today I celebrate knowing that making creates Life.
Quilt Show :: Vintage

My favorite quilt was the Wedding Ring, in part because of the story told on its little descriptive card. Made by a husband and wife after their wedding, pieced and quilted in quiet on a farm in the cold of winter. It is like staring at a fairytale to me.
Quilt Show :: Vintage

Incidentally, making a Wedding Ring quilt was on my Mondo Beyondo list. I think I may have found my muse.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dreaming + Garden = Mondo

Five years ago Tim and I took a trip North. We were visiting family in the Pacific Northwest and tacked on a week to head to Canada. We spent some of our Canadian time on a little piece of land called Salt Springs Island. I actually posted about it here when this blog was first started.

That island changed me. Quite literally in many ways. I remember we carefully motored off the ferry onto small winding roads and I was struck by that feeling I once had as a little girl ... as if I had found a place of magic and fey folk. The island itself is close and intimate, peppered with small farms and sheep and artists. We had to hike to our campsite, right there on the water. I got pregnant with the boys on that island. I still get goosebumps when I recall the days there.

We found a winery; small, local, like everything there. It was a warm day and remember I was so silly, afraid to sip the wine tastings 'just in case'. I tried their white and bought a bottle and we watched our then puppy Mishka plunge into a small pond with the 'winery local' dogs, paddling around and splashing. I loved that day, that feeling.

The first thing that I noticed when we pulled up to the winery was the land. It rolled a bit up to the home, down to the tasting room. The owners were clever gardeners, terracing with raised beds, junk repurposed into garden art, flowers mixed with food. It was like a page out of Sunset magazine and we got to spend the day in it. There is nothing that gets closer to my heart than real life Sunset mag scenes.

Raised Beds

I think that day enbedded itself into me, my psyche and dreams. It certainly embedded itself into my garden aesthetic. Since that day we have had twins, raised them, revisited another island, and finally finally realized some of the gardening dream that buried itself into my heart that day.

365 :: 126
Potato Towers

I will never be a farmer, far from a proficient gardener even now. But over the last 4 years I have learned so much about what I love. I was never really a 'growing' girl, impatient with what I thought the earth would just let go of freely. I have tempered that impatience now, learned to observe, learned to only plant what we like to eat, learned to play and plan all at the same time.

Tomato Patch

The backyard this year looks like that place, that sweet spot on the sweetest spot I have yet been in all my travels. It has the beds and the mixed purpose planting. It has flowers and fruit and food and us. A place for us to sit and talk or play or eat. It is far from done, I have come to realize no garden is ever really done, just fluxing in and out of states. But it is as close to the 'perfect' as I want it to be.

The Long View

If we do leave here I will mourn just a bit. But also know that if that scene from 5 years ago ran so deep that we created here, well, then we can create it anywhere. And if we do go North, we will be that much closer to Salt Springs.

I realized this dream and wrote this post a few days back (before the blogger black out). I also came to the realization that sometimes dreams need a little refresher and signed up for a second round of Mondo Beyondo, this time with a few good friends that I cannot wait to work with as they do their first course. I am very excite about this.

And just as the garden space became something onto itself, I think it may be high time to seek out a new space on the internets and so I hope to move house this weekend to Squarespace where things just look a little prettier. I hope that you, my reading friends, do follow and I will make sure to update here if it does actually happen.

Here is to Dreaming in Action, right?


Sunday, May 08, 2011

A [Mama's] Day

Mama day 4
Mama day 4
Mama day 4
Mama day 4
Mama day 4
Mama day 4

Mama day 4
Mama day 4
Camping, Park Play, Ojai, Drive Home ... Sick kids now. But fun while it lasted

Mama by Mace
Photo credit :: Mace

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Food is Good

Food is good. This is something we all know. Lately we have had some good, no, great food around here and I thought I would share a few links. It has been the season of hand pies, the perfect blend of dough and filling and portable to boot. And a few other tidbits ....

Hand Pies :: A long time back I read a post about the book Mad Hungry and the easy and to-die-for pastry dough she includes. I finally got around to the dough and the chicken pot 'hand' pie recipe some time back and will forever be wishing I was eating one (I really do wish I had a hand pie right now). It is a simple dough, especially for the uninitiated pastry dough makers (as I was).
Pre-Baking :: Empanada
Simple to make and forgiving with the roll out, I found it easier the second time around because I knew how the dough should feel (and cared only that it make the flaky sinful goodness that I had the time before). First time, I made the recommended chicken filling, but for a different take at Easter brunch I diced ham and onion and cilantro and irish chedder and filled tiny little pockets of dough with the stuff. There are no pictures because I was literally attacked as I pulled them out of the oven. So good.

It was not enough to just have one hand pie in the arsenal so I went on to try the Rick Bayless/America's Test Kitchen Empanada recipe (in part because of the hand pie angle but also because I follow Erika's recommendations very often)(also scroll down to second recipe in the page link). This one was a winner. The dough again proved easy and has the intriguing inclusion of a cup of vodka. No idea if this does something magical but I could roll and re-roll the dough and it all tasted fine once out of the oven.
Empanada Heaven
I love the savory filling of meat/olive/raisin and barely got a picture before I attacked it.

Onto Cake :: There is a cake that has lingered in the back of my brain for some time. I read a poast by Orangette about an olive oil cake last year; it had olive oil, yes, but also whole citrus fruits and ground almonds and this just seemed so right. We are peaking in the citrus season with plenty to be pulled off local trees and so the time finally came. This cake requires some time, the whole orange and lemon are simmered until soft, the almonds go into the oven to toast/roast and then require grinding.
The result is fantastic, crumbly and sweet and almond-scented and just delicious. If you want to eat cake that requires nothing but a plate and fork, this is it.

The recipe introduced my to roasting my own almonds and I now have a new addiction. The first batch of almonds came out way too 'toasted' but I was dialed in after another two batches. I noticed the almonds (which started as a bag of raw almonds) now tasted similar to the bags I buy from Trader Joe's to keep in the car for snacks. Except the raw almonds are about 1/2 the price of the prepared and now I have control over the flavor profile of my roasted almonds (flavor profile, always wanted to use that word, and yep, I have been watching that Bobby Flay chef comp thing).
365 :: 110
My favorite so far is the brown sugar, chile powder, salt mix. I just tossed the almonds with the above and a little olive oil and baked at 350 for 6-7 minutes, shaking the pan and taking a test almond after the initial 6-7 minutes. It probably depends on your oven but I highly recommend this method of making your own delicious roasted almonds.

And now that we are hitting upon almost Summer season (and temperatures)here, I have ushered in a few new refreshing beverages. On the non-alcoholic side, a huge glass of water with tangerine rind and mint leaves. The citrus peel is sweet and refreshing with almost no bitter and the mint makes it special.
And for the occasional Friday cocktail, I suggest fresh grapefruit juice, sugar, mint and vodka. Lots of ice and a seat on the deck or patio and you are ready to go.

Okay, now I am starving. I need a hand pie. Stat.
365 :: 124
But I really should be eating these fresh from the garden and working out more to work off the hand pies. Man, I love hand pies.

*** And Happy Mama Day to us all; we may not all be one, but we most definitely all have one. And so I wish upon all of us a wonderful day that fills up with love, no matter of where you are at in the world of Mothering ***

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

365 :: One Third

The day I started 365 I had some apprehension. I wondered where I would find the time to take and upload and process and post a picture. I wondered if I would quit.

365 3/11 (ish)

It seems like it was a blink ago but counting the days by number shows you that one third of 2011 has passed by and there is something magical about having captured one moment from each of those days.

I made it to Day 100 before I missed a day. And the only day I missed was 101. Both days were a milestone. 100 becuase it just sounds awesome. 101 because I made myself shrug off the miss and I will always remember on that day we hiked with all 4 of the newest generation and we laughed and the family was together in the way I dream that we might be in 2012 or 2013 if we are lucky.

The powerful pull of images keeps me coming back to my camera, happy to play and crete and sometimes capture a moment that I can feel awfully proud about. This one because he is snapping the shirt buttons and because I did not cry to see him so grown.

365 :: 123
365 :: 123

The slideshow is there so that in 120 more days I can find this post and realize it really was just a blink ago.