Friday, March 26, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment}, inspired by soule mama.

this moment is a before and after. my lala bug is big enough to know what she wants, ask for it, be consistent, be persistent, and be pleased with the results. i can't tell you how this realization shakes me. time is moving quickly.

in this case, her hair. she's been growing it out, her bangs especially, since school began in september. but for the past couple of weeks, she has asked me repeatedly to cut her hair. she was specific about length and it was not to include her bangs.

i cut off about 5 inches. (i admit, it pained me.) she loves it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

noodles. lots of noodles.

i want to share more of the food goodness we have been enjoying lately!

today...noodles. noodles. noodles again. and more noodles.

let me start by crediting friends for these recipes. the first one comes from friends cameron and chris and the rest come from my friend liz. (yes, the same liz that provides me with recipes for all sorts of other goodies.)

for the purposes of the recipes below, T = tablespoon, C = cup, t = teaspoon, lb = pound. i am sorry i don't have the metrics. (don't get me started on pondering why the U.S. doesn't use metrics!)

tofu noodles
(this recipe, although slightly different, reminds me of a noodle recipe we have enjoyed from feeding the whole family, by cynthia lair.)
one package of soba (buckwheat) noodles. (nicola's note: half a package would have been plenty, to the same ratio of ingredients below.)
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1.5 T sesame seeds
one package of firm tofu
6 T soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
1.5 t sesame oil
brown sugar to taste (~1T)
1 T minced ginger
(optional: additional vegetables such as bell pepper, broccoli, snow peas, carrots, etc.)

toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat. cook the noodles per the package directions. drain the tofu and cut into chunks. combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, oil, sugar, and ginger in a bowl. toss the cooked noodles with scallions and sesame seeds. carefully layer in the tofu and the dressing, then mix. refrigerate for as long as possible before eating. this is served cold.

spicy chard (or kale) noodles
12 oz pasta (penne, orechiette, small shells)
2 bunches fresh chard (or kale)
1/3 C olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t red pepper flakes
grated parmesan cheese

cook the pasta. add chard/kale to pasta just before removing it to drain. heat the oil and saute the remaining ingredients (except the parmesan). toss onto pasta and garnish with parmesan.
(nicola's note: i recently made this and garnished with goat cheese (instead of parmesan) and chopped hard boiled egg and it was delicious.)

gorgonzola tomato (or broccoli) noodles
8 oz uncooked ziti, penne, or other small noodle
1 t olive oil
2 C cherry tomatoes, halved (or alternatively, use broccoli when tomatoes are not in season)
1/2 t salt
1/4 t crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 C half and half (or cream or whole milk)
6 T gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
2 C fresh spinach

cook noodles per package directions. heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. add tomatoes (or broccoli), salt, red pepper, and garlic to the pan. cook one minute. stir in half and half and gorgonzola. cook two minutes or until slightly thick. stir in cooked pasta and spinach and cook until spinach wilts, about one minute. serve. (liz's note: if using broccoli instead of tomatoes, you may need to add additional half and half.)

spicy orange chili noodles
3/4 lb cooked spaghetti
1/2 C vegetable oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1 T peeled, minced fresh ginger
zest and juice of one orange
1 t orange juice concentrate
1/4 C soy sauce
1/6 C sriracha chili sauce

whisk all the ingredients (except the pasta) and pour over the pasta. let stand for at least 10 minutes and garnish with cilantro.

and for those of you eating gluten free, i suspect gluten free substitutes would taste just as delicious in all of these recipes!

happy eating!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

corner view: local architecture

corner view is a weekly photographic take on a theme shared by bloggers from around the world, hosted by jane of spain daily.

this week's corner view: local architecture

when i told mike that this was the topic for the week, he immediately said i should photograph this building. you see, mike's late dad was the lead architect who designed this building.
he received the american institute of architecture national honor award for the design of this building, which mike says is the architecture equivalent of an oscar. quite a memorial to be left with.

see the beautiful wood siding above? when it was replaced a few years ago, a large supply of the removed siding came home with us. it has found new homes in various ways, including as an enclosure for the area under our deck, below.

(and the quality of these photos? i am a bit embarrassed, given my new camera, but i still learning how to use it and i had a wailing toddler in the car with me as i snapped them!)

for a virtual tour of architecture around the world:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

felt picture board

another question this morning! (no answers on yesterday's FTP move if anyone still wants to pipe in!)
any suggestions on a simple-to-make, easily repeatable gift for kids for a birthday gift? (last year, i made crowns for all the kids in our lives.)

for christmas, friends of ours gave the kids several sets of felt shapes and words. they were a wonderful gift, but i was getting a little tired of finding felt pieces everywhere, so i decided to make a felt board.

as soon as the kids saw it (when they woke shortly after 6am, hence the dark, flash photo), they were so excited and immediately began to negotiate sharing.

i used a large rectangle of craft felt i had leftover from making crowns for friends last year, some felt flowers that had been gifted to me, some eucalyptus pods i found on the ground at lala's school, a bamboo stake given to us by our neighbor, excess ribbon, and a leftover scrap of fabric for the pocket. i need to add another bamboo rod (or flat ruler) along the bottom (inside the pocket that formed when i attached the felt board and pocket) to keep the bottom from curling in as you see in the photos.

i can't express the mamma excitement i felt when isabella went straight to it, pulled out the word felts and promptly identified the words violin, watermelon, and unicorn without sounding them out.

i love completed projects that are this well received!
(if anyone is interested in a tutorial, let me know and i can add one to this post.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

past week ponderings

it's tax time over at the examiner!

and a question for blogger users: do you know anything about the FTP migration? (i am clueless!) and in the process of figuring that out, i suppose i should move to my own URL. tips? thanks in advance!

last week, i had planned to stay offline in the evenings and be productive in my own creative way in my own creative time.

it only sort of happened.

i was productive and creative last week. during the week, i:
  • started and completed two sewing projects
  • started third and fourth sewing projects
  • let go a little bit on my easter basket plans and realized this helped me to relax in general, so i felt ok about not doing it all homemade a naturale
  • made decent progress on our taxes
  • was more creative with meals than usual
  • made significant progress on two photo projects
  • made progress on two writing projects
  • watched my camera how-to DVD and skimmed parts of the manual
  • began reading a book for pleasure!
  • gardened. a lot. see below.
  • worked on projects to support bella's school.
  • cooked, cleaned, parented. repeat. repeat. repeat. etc.
but i wasn't offline as much as i had planned to be.

you see, i have been sticking quite well to my goal of remaining offline during the day time hours with my kids. this has proven to be absolutely the right choice, however, i have ended up filling my evening hours online, instead.

part of being productive and creative, for me, is here online. this blog gives me the space to write freely, in whatever way means something to me. it gives me the space to record our days and growth, to share, to prove to myself i am being productive in some capacity (any capacity!), and it gives me the space to solicit feedback. and i do love your comments. a lot. but to me, appreciating the comments is the same as appreciating the people who leave them, and it is hard for me to do that without reciprocating! although i feel like i can never stay away from my blog space too long, this feels a little narcissistic to me unless i visit other blogs. and as i visit other blogs, i am inspired with new thoughts to share on my own blog. a fruitful cycle, but a time consuming one.

so i am not sure where that leads me to in this moment, but i know this realization about myself falls into the compartment of my brain that is taking on those steps toward balance!

the week ended peacefully. we finally had a weekend with few commitments. we spent the time in the garden, continuing work on our kitchen, munching on treats over coffee with my parents, enjoying a bike ride at the park, having dinner al fresco, and just being together. it was lovely.

(edited to update)
in the garden...
this week, i planted:
an apple tree
3 blueberry bushes
2 squash
8 tomato plants
4 basil plants
3 pea plants
pole beans
purple beans
red pepper
additional onions
additional mint

a bamboo stake tripod is the perfect, natural, free trellis for our beans. bamboo thanks to our next door neighbor

we planted seeds for:
bok choy
mixed greens
mung beans

bok choy seedlings. these popped up in two days!

these joined the following edibles, already established in the garden:
lemon tree
orange tree
apricot tree
plum tree

just writing that list brings me so much pleasure. gardening isn't entirely frugal. (we take this money out of our food budget.) we spent a chunk of change on compost, as our soil needed amending and our own compost was not enough. and we bought both seeds and seedlings. but the pleasure of growing one's own garden is huge. self-sufficiency and skills gained make me feel so good about myself, my family, and my little place on this big planet.

i hope your weekend brought you joy! happy monday.

(from now on, i might not be able to take credit for all the photos on my blog. mike used to handle a 35mm slr with skill, so with a new dslr in the house, i am learning to take turns. the photos of lala and of lala and me, above, are his to claim.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

the grave yard

well, if any family could make a trip to the grave yard an entertaining and elevating experience, it would be mike's. last weekend, we gathered at the grave of "grannie annie's" parents. the day was beautiful, the company was nice, and somehow, stickers and a kite got mixed into the scene.

for an instant, i thought "my children are being inappropriate for the setting!"
and then i changed my mind. what joy and life to bring to a place of permanent rest.

the family went on to dinner together at a very funky old school italian restaurant afterward. i felt full (and mildly queasy) for at least 24 hours after that meal!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


the first day of spring!


oh bees, please continue to visit our garden!

watching our shadows walk with us

laundry on the line is drying quickly now!

sun bouncing off the spring blossoms. lots of pink where we live.

a hummingbird, at rest on this treetop, while my dad and i looked on, commenting on why birders need more telephoto!

while i was putting on this tablecloth, finnian (2 yr) squealed with glee and said "ohhhh, thank you, mamma! that is beautiful!" in his soft, sweet, toddler speech. and when lala came in from school she exclaimed "oh! i LOVE this tablecloth!"

our nature nook, enjoying calla lilies and blossoms from our garden. i will need to move some of our rocks to make room for more spring that is making its way inside now.

the light is changing. all those posts we all shared in december about the dimness around us, and look! here is light in a corner of my bedroom where it was not found at this time of day 3 weeks ago.

the living room got a cleaning, rearranging, and "spring/summer" linen change. it feels so open and fresh in there now. (i am still daydreaming and saving for hardwood in the living room...the last room without it.)

welcome, welcome spring!

DVD give-away winner!

i almost forgot to announce the vegan DVD winner!

suzanne of enchanted chameleon said "oh, i'm intrigued!"

if you would like it, suzanne, the DVD is yours. and i am happy to explore your new-to-me blog. cheers!

Friday, March 19, 2010

this moment and the orange root

you still have time to enter for the vegan cooking DVD give-away!

i decided to join in on soule mama's friday weekly {this moment}.
one moment. one photo. a whole story.

in this moment, i caught lala waivering, trying to decide whether the upset fuss she had just had was worth continuing or not. and this moment is worth remembering, because she chose not to continue fussing and i parented through it in just the way i hope always to do.

and....because i am posting on food this week....

within our quest has been the desire to use more vegetables in new-to-us ways, eat more seasonally, and use what we have before buying more.

last week, i had a big bag of carrots that weren't being eaten as quickly as expected, so i wanted to find some recipes to consume bulk carrots.

our first favorite was spicy carrot soup. i served it with hearty wheat sandwich bread from artisan bread in five minutes a day and with a salad comprised of leafy greens from the garden, toasted walnuts, beets, gorgonzola, and a made-up dressing of rice vinegar, dijon mustard, and a few drops of sesame oil. it was all delicious and immediately declared a repeater.

another hit was carrot salad, this one made with:
3 cups shredded carrot
1 apple, diced
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup yogurt (plain, or for a sweet salad, vanilla)

we all love carrots, so it was nice to find some new uses. do you have a household favorite and a recipe to share?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

food dyes

you still have time to enter for the vegan cooking DVD give-away!

recently, when my mom brought over the children's books on fiber arts, she also brought over several books on using natural dyes for fabrics and yarns, knowing that my interest in natural dyes had been rekindled. i skimmed the books, learning things i had not known, wishing for more detail on fabric (rather than yarn) dyeing, knowing i am not ready to purchase chemicals to use as setting agents, and finally settling in on the natural food dyes i know and love.

but this time, i am not using them for fabric. i am using them for food.

with easter just around the corner and mike's mom over for a visit, we put some of my food dyes to the test.

using foods for natural dyes (of eggs, non-synthetic cloth, and non-synthetic yarn) is incredibly easy. some foods are natural dyes (or as we know them, staining agents!), such as coffee, tea, turmeric, mustard, grapes (wine), berries, beets, etc.

here is how to make your own egg dyes:
your food for color + 1 tablespoon vinegar + 2 cups water = egg dye
(the vinegar is the setting agent.) bring all of the ingredients to a boil, them simmer for 10 or more minutes
pouring your mixture through a sieve will give a liquid that leaves you with a solid color. leaving the food material in the mix will give your egg a mottled color.

to obtain various colors:
red: beets, cabbage, red raspberries, strawberries
yellow: onion skins, turmeric, mustard
blue: blueberries, blackberries
green: mix your yellow and blue dyes
orange: mix your red and yellow dyes

i used red raspberries for red, blue and blackberries for blue/purple, and a combination of turmeric, mustard, and onion skins for yellow.

at the suggestion of my crafty friend liz, we made leaf imprints on some of our eggs. to do this, simply press the leaf against the egg, wrap the egg tightly inside an old nylon stocking, twist to keep taut, and dye for as long as you can bear to leave it sitting.

the egg below was dyed in blueberries and was left soaking for well over an hour. i left it tightly wrapped when i removed it from the color and let it dry slightly before removing the stocking and peeling off the leaf.

and because i could not bear to let all those simmered berries go to waste (this would have gone against my goal for march's one small change), i used them to make berry cobbler (which did go against my steps toward balance for march!). delicious.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

corner view: front door

you still have time to enter for the vegan cooking DVD give-away!

corner view is a weekly photographic take on a theme shared by bloggers from around the world, hosted by jane of spain daily.

this week's corner view: my front door

here is our front door. welcome to our home!

i love our front door. about 2 years ago, mike installed a new one and only several months ago, our whole house got painted, including the front door. i had trouble deciding between dark green and deep red. both are gorgeous, i think. green matched the existing, pre-painted garage door, so green it was. serendipitously perfect for st. patrick's day.

our mini blinds are bent, because two young faces like to peek out at anyone that rings our bell!

and because i am posting about food this week and my friend liz comes through my door every wednesday, i am sharing another one of her recipes today. below is an incredibly delicious recipe for whole wheat waffles. these are a huge hit at our house and are freezable.

served with frozen berries on the plate/cup set my vintage swap partner, allison, sent to me

liz's whole wheat waffles
3 cups whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup buttermilk
1 stick butter, melted
2 mashed bananas

whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
in a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, buttermilk, and butter. mix in the mashed banana.
mix together the wet and dry, stirring until combined.
cook in a waffle iron. makes 16 eight inch waffles.

for front doors around the world:


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