Tuesday, March 29, 2011

yarn along

Inspired by Ginny at small things.

I am deep in the paperwork preparing J's business taxes, along with household ones. This year is another learning year - we bought a home which adds another dimension to the deciphering. All is going well, though. Several years into business taxes and I have a pretty good system worked out now. I think the hardest part was locating everything that was shuffled around when we moved. It was an abrupt packing with help from others, so my life has been full of surprises when opening random boxes throughout the year. I found my stash of herb and carrot seeds with the thumbtacks, L's china tea set, a stack of business receipts, thank you cards that were never mailed, and a rubber Superman!

So, my reading material this week is mostly taxes, with a few passages in Sandra Ingerman's Welcome Home: Following Your Soul's Journey Home and glimpses of Anastasia by Vladimir Megre which I have been reading from since October. It's a magical book, an entire series, that someday I will have a bit more time to take in.

And my T-shirt rug, made from favorite old shirts that I wore to pieces and my favorite old pillowcases. The energy that these fabrics are infused with is like honey to me, and all I want to do is just lay my head on this rug and inhale deeply. I love the memories infused into this piece and look forward to spending a lot of time on it. It will be done in several pieces, as this was as many stitches as I could comfortably fit on the needles (I think they're size 16??). It is a basic garter stitch, it's all new to me... I taught myself to knit last year, and since I don't have a crochet tool yet, a knitted rug it had to be! I will learn to crochet next, my hands seem to naturally move with these rhythms. I believe it is a part of me just like the many generations who knitted before me, I really feel my grandmother Charlotte when I craft.

Mmmmmmm, I am always happy when I think of her.

May you have a magical week full of the blessings of being human~

Monday, March 28, 2011

paper nests and homemade crackers

Since the weather here continues to be soooo cold and snowy, our robins and other birds have yet to return. We have taken it upon ourselves to make bird nests and decorate Easter trees to feel more springy while wearing layers of wool and huddled near the fire.

My friend V from recycled+revamped gave me the idea for paper nests. Leaf and I jumped into this project with much enthusiasm. Forgive me for only having a few photos of the process, glue fingers + camera = not great.

1. We took magazines that showed up in the mailbox full of bright spring children's clothes (you know, "junk" mail..... or more recycling as I call it) and tore them into thin strips. 2. Next we found small bowls that had a pleasing nest-like shape and wrapped them in plastic wrap. I am not sure if this is necessary, but I certainly did not want paper glued and stuck to my favorite bowls.

3. Then we made the "paste." A small amount of school glue mixed in a dish with warm water.

4. We dipped the paper strips into the paste and began to layer them into the bowls, some hanging over the edges to look like grasses. Occasionally, I would pour glue-water out of the bowls because it tended to puddle. I wanted the nests to be sturdy, but not too thick so they would dry faster.

5. When finished layering the strips and satisfied with how they looked, I placed them on a piece of cardboard to dry overnight. In the morning, I carefully pulled the nest and plastic wrap from the bowls. The nests were still damp, so I placed them near the woodstove to finish the process, peeled them gently from the plastic, and continued to dry them. I turned them over and rotated for even drying.

The results: sweet little nests for our felted birdies! These are great on the spring table and also make nice little gifts. We put a bird and some tiny stone "eggs" into one gift. Can you see the nest that has the word "love"? Must have been a picture of a graphic t-shirt, true magic at work!

As is the way of early spring in the north, the pantry is kind of bare. Leaf and I were craving crackers, so we set to work this morning to make it happen! She helped with measuring, mixing, rolling, and loved cutting them into fun shapes. We determined that the hen made the best cracker shapes. Here's to the spring hen! And, as I have an odd way with my recipe-less baking, I found a link to a recipe that is almost exactly how I make my crackers. The funniest part - it's from another Julie. Enjoy!

Friday, March 25, 2011

{this moment}

Inspired by Amanda at SouleMama: {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.

unable to be captured in photo: Leaf singing The Change Song, "Tadpoles change into frogs.
Water can change into clouds or rain, or snow, or fog. A little tiny seed can change into a weed, ‘Cause we’ve all got to change sometimes."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

oh, SNOW!! and the mid-week review

Just when the garden tools began to come out.... THUNDER ** LIGHTENING ** SNOW !!

yes, my feet are really under there

the view from the kitchen as i brewed tea

Here we go again.... and still going! Jayson plowed snow all night and it looks like he'll be out there again tonight. Dance class was canceled so Leaf and I stayed home with the fire burning. It has been a day to drink tea, bake bread, dust and sweep, dress-up and put on plays.

On the subject of bread, some friends have bugged me about my lack of "recipe-ing" so.... here's one for you that's simple, sweet, and I think anyone can do:

Honey-Wheat Bread (dairy and egg-free)
2 packages active yeast
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
egg substitute, equivalent of 1 egg [example: 1 tablespoon ground flax seed mixed with about 4 tablespoons rice milk (mix and set aside)]
about 4 cups all-purpose flour

combine whole wheat flour, yeast, salt. gradually beat 1 2/3 cup very hot tap water (120 degrees F) into the mixture until just blended. increase speed to medium and beat 2 minutes while scraping bowl.

beat in honey, oil, flax mix and 1 cup flour to make thick batter, beat 2 minutes longer while scraping bowl. with wooden spoon, stir in 2 1/2 c
ups flour to make soft dough.

turn dough on floured surface and knead about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, working in about 1/2 cup more flour. cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.

on large cookie sheet, shape dough into 10" by 5" oval loaf. cover
loosely with plastic wrap, let rise in warm place (80-85 degrees F) about 30 minutes, until doubled. with sharp knife, cut 3 diagonal slashes across top of loaf.

preheat oven to 375, sprinkle loaf lightly with flour. bake 30 minutes or until bottom of loaf sounds hollow when lightly tapped.

My notes on this: I appreciate recipes as good ideas, but have yet to truly follow one. Today I used a mixture of spelt and oat flour. I have used all sorts of different flours and each bread is delicious! You just have to know how they behave, some absorb
more liquid than others, some are more granular. I adjust accordingly and believe in experimentation! I also ran out of honey, so I used cherry-applesauce in it's place, roughly the same amount, but I didn't measure. The original recipe was written for an egg, but we don't eat these so I use a flax substitute which I think to be the best replacement. I found that shaping the loaf on a surface and then sprinkling the cookie sheet with flour before placing it on to rise is the way to go, this will prevent the bottom of the loaf from sticking to the cookie sheet.
**Vegan notes: to make this truly a vegan bread, use the applesauce substitute in place of honey. Yum, yummy!!


So, what else have we been doing since the equinox?

enjoying the spring table

more up-cycled t-shirts (we call this one the wild carrot, it had several holes which needed concealing)

exploring rotting logs and discussing lifecycles

playing in magical places with magical people

meet teeth and eyeball's new friend

enjoying the warm days and having a yard again (check out the greatest thrift store find)

homemade pitas , inspired by VeganDad

more baking: vegan carob-chip cookies made with rice and coconut flours (i snapped a photo before they all disappeared)

painting, of course (a special treat to use mama's acrylics)

oh, beatrix.. how we love you! she has been enjoying more space to twirl and dance, a good romp through the raspberry patch. she is such a sweet bunny, i have to include pictures of her

Happy Spring wherever you are and warm thoughts for those of us in snow again! It will be garden time soon enough.

Monday, March 21, 2011

the pace of spring

I feel the pulse of Mother Earth somewhat slower and more intentional, thrummm thrummm. It is so pleasant to me and I find myself flowing with it gracefully. Most other Springs, I am nearly overwhelmed at the speed of activity. This year is different. I feel a shift. Sure, I am more active and accomplishing so much more than the winter months, the squirrels are playing chase through the yards and the birds more active, the horses are frolicking.... but the heartbeat below is more deliberate. It beats out a soothing calm that helps me flow through the day. I feel as though I am moving through a great ocean with a very even keel. This is nice.

Sunday is family day, and even though ours was spent at the emergency room, we all remained centered and mellow. Jayson scratched his eye on a branch while unloading brush from his truck. Thankfully, it was not a deep scratch. It is a long one over the pupil, causing his vision to be very blurred. Bless his heart, he still went to work today. I love this man and his beautiful sparkling eyes. He continually amazes me.

We finished our family day baking bread and pitas, cooking tempeh and chard, and watching Ponyo (this is a favorite of mine, as I am a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki's work... also seems appropriate for today with tsunamis and the extra close moon). A rare treat at the end of a rare day!

As for today, another quiet and slow morning with promises of many imagination adventures... Leaf is off to feed the orcas in her room. I can hear her exclaiming, "I looked out my window and it finally is spring! Now I need more fish for the orca!"

(can you see the fish?)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

treasures and little pleasures

I have really been enjoying my recent embroidery projects, with so many ideas coming through me!! I made a deal with myself that I am not to begin the larger projects until I take care of the paperwork and accounting for Jayson's business. Sewing is just much more enjoyable than sorting through receipts!

In the meantime, I am happily distracting myself with little projects. Recent thrift store finds are being turned into clothing that Leaf enjoys wearing, and I have that Mama-satisfaction of seeing my little one prancing about in something that my hands have lovingly touched.

A simple brown dress. I added some flying birds using a favorite old T-shirt that finally fell apart, cutting out the shapes and just sewing on. Nothing fancy, but I find it very pleasing (minus the wrinkles).

A plain T-shirt. Leaf is so into cats and wants to wear cat shirts every day. To replace the hot pink "Hello Kitty" shirt from grandma: I used the same old T-shirt as the previous dress and cut out a silhouette of a cat; sewed it on and added some whiskers with embroidery thread. I prefer these simple designs. It's L's new favorite shirt (sporting the very wrinkled look as well).

Another jumper and work-in-progress. This is a shot of the back, what I have accomplished so far with embroidery thread. Hmmm, I'm not much into ironing, can you tell?

I love the fact that a package arrived yesterday from my grandmother, and guess what was inside?

I also found some old wool sweaters and coats that were tattered and in pieces. I turned them into bluebirds for the spring table, and they have already laid some eggs! I see more of these coming soon to give as gifts to my dear friend who is healing from surgery.

Other magical finds, a lovely quilt and spring-themed books.

I Love My Little Storybook is one of the sweetest stories, a new favorite of mine.

Wishing you a Happy Spring, a Magical Full Moon, and may you find some treasures and pleasures this weekend.

Friday, March 18, 2011

{this moment}

Inspired by Amanda at SouleMama: {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, March 17, 2011

chocolate chemistry

In my early 20s, I was a chemist. Oh, yes. I have liberated myself from the laboratory, but those days of precise analysis and exacting measurements definitely changed me. I learned how to keep immaculate journals, documenting each step and reasoning behind every move. Precision, precision, statistical analysis, reproducible results.... such a completely different way of being than my life now. One day, on my drive home from the lab, I was listening to Modest Mouse and suddenly realized what my spirit was saying, what I truly believed in and what was important for me to live for. I came home and told my boyfriend that I wasn't going back to work.... ever. The next morning I sent the simplest letter of resignation:

In order to live true to my spirit, I can no longer continue to work for your company.

Well, there were four sentences actually, but that's the only one I remember. My boyfriend asked me what I was going to do. What a moment! Joy and excitement filled me as I finally asked myself the question: what do I want to do?

I wanted to work with children and spend my time walking in the woods.

By the end of the day I had 2 jobs: leading an after school program for inner-city elementary students; and teaching soccer. I worked afternoons and evenings and had the rest of my time to wander the forests gaining inspiration and reconnecting with all of life. I knew that following my heart, the voice of my spirit, would always be the right path and that doors will always open.

This guiding impulse has led me on quite the journey for the past (almost) 9 years. I have been all over the country doing so many diverse things. I could write books about my travels. (I hope to someday)

For now, I practice my chemistry in the kitchen. Except, I don't follow any recipes. I don't measure anything. I never make the same thing twice. Each creation is an adventure which dinner guests are brave to embark upon with me. Always intuitively and unscientifically experimenting; without documentation. And when something amazing comes from it, there is the joy of holding that moment. And that moment is the only one. For, just like all other experiences in life, it cannot be re-created or duplicated or held in a photograph or recipe card. It just is. So I try to savor it and chew slowly. I watch the eyes of those tasting the moment with me. I drink it all in and nourish my body with the complete magic of it all.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

sunshine in march

We slept through the alarm today and missed dance class. I felt guilty for 15 minutes, and then I went outside......

We rejoiced in being right here

right now.

I love right now.

Monday, March 14, 2011

appreciating today

I am thankful for......

treasure hunts

blue skies and tall trees
emerging spring
the space in my life to create little things that make me smile

my Irish heritage

resting in the sunshine
coffee as a pain reliever for my back (who knew!?)



good books
special places

being a stay-at-home mama

east-facing windows

and Magic.

We live a blessed life. I am so thankful.