Saturday, May 31, 2014

Peaceful Moments

I'm experiencing a bit of insomnia right now. Usually I'm out cold after I fall asleep, but I think some chocolate chip cookies before bed might be the culprit. My mind keeps going through the steps of sewing projects, things that need to be cleaned, gardening tasks, things I don't want to forget in the morning. I've tried counting to put myself back to sleep, but no matter how high I count, I keep ending up back at "56". So, maybe it's time to make a list. I've been thinking it would be nice to end the week thinking of peaceful moments from the day to day to remind myself amidst the chaos there is also quiet.

Peaceful Moments:
- Eating veggie sushi (made by Jake) on the porch with the family
- Gardening in the evening to the sounds of owls and coyotes (I think?)
- Eating popcorn and watermelon with a mama friend and our kiddos
- Reading to my babies on the floor
- Standing in the shower
- Watching my littlest baby sleep on her daddies shoulder
- Watching "Miss Fisher" mysteries with Jake
- Reading Mary Oliver while nursing Elsa
- Picking fresh lilacs for the kitchen table
- Finding the latest issue of "Taproots" in the mail today
- Devouring chocolate chip cookies before bed

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gardening Journey: Black Thumb

As much as I'd like to believe I'm a practical gal with a good head on my shoulders, truth be told, I'm a jump in, ask questions later kind of gal... that's how I ended up at art school, that's how I ended up moving to the city without a job or hope in the sky, that's how I ended up married to a wacky music man with pancake and apple pie dreams just like me, that's how I ended up living in the mountains of rural Vermont running a country store and far from family, that's how I ended up with two little ones so sweet and mischievous that keep my world spinning. Really, it's the only way I know how to be. All of my creative endeavors have started this way... perhaps it's the nature of creative dreams... that they must blossom organically or risk being stifled by rules and indecision.

It's no surprise that this is how I started out gardening... without a book, without any research... hands in the dirt and planting what I liked. Admittedly, research is a very handy thing when gardening. Learning about your soil and the plants you are planting is also handy. Asking questions of those more knowledgeable is definitely "sage" (hehe) advice. But I fear I would never start anything if I bogged myself down with these things in the beginning. And somehow failing miserably seems to help me learn better in the end. Unfortunately, these failures can lead to a lot of heartbreak in the gardening realm... the blood of dead and sad plants on my hands.

This year I've been trying hard to fill in the great gaps in my gardening knowledge, but I've already had several failings. Singing to my plants each day doesn't seem to be enough to make them grow. Fruit flies and extreme temperature shifts were my main problems, but possibly also a bit of neglect thrown in there for good measure. It was enough for me to seriously consider whether I wanted to start anything from seedlings anymore or even garden. But, truth be told, it's quite miraculous to watch seeds birth from the soil, and despite disappointments, there's such joy in watching things grow and helping care for them, and especially in eating it when the time comes! I will not give up on my desire to paint my black thumb green just yet!

I finally got some tulip and daffodil bulbs planted this year!
And, truth be told, despite set backs and having to shell out extra cash on some replacement plants, I'm no longer jumping in like a silly clown with my tutu and gardening shears flying. I'm learning and trying to take notes so I don't repeat the same mistakes. And each year we add a tree or two, some berries and more perennials and it gets better and better! My love has helped me begin to realize my dream of a mandala garden... it's not a perfect circle... the sections aren't marked out perfectly, but I still think once everything is planted, it'll be wonderous! And next year, with some sheet mulching this Fall, I'll actually be able to get it started in early Spring.

I'd like to use this blog space to keep some gardening notes this year, and hopefully round out the rough edges of my gardening schemes.

Anyways, here's a little something for you to inspire your own growing, whatever that may be!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

21/52 Water Babies

Elsa and Finn: playing with a puddle the rain left behind in the cozy coupe
Oona: little mermaid just got a new pair of legs and feet

Sunday, May 18, 2014

20/52 On the Porch

"A picture of my girls, once a week, every week in 2014"  

Elsa: hands in a bowl of water... I think she would have been happy like this for hours
Oona: snug as a bug in a rug... or "a bug in a picnic blanket wrapped in a hammock", I should say 

*Excuse our porch... it was actually painted in the Fall, and the "restoration" paint didn't live up to it's name, and is flaking terribly after just one season. It looks like a globe now!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Notes on Mothering

With the passing of another Mother's Day (which I am wholly enjoying as a mother myself these days... yes, bring on the chocolate), I've been spending a little extra time reflecting on my own mothering. I think, before becoming a parent, I was one who certainly believed I would be an awesome parent (and I would hope that people wouldn't take on the task without this initial belief.) But, very quickly, the reality of little ones... a little unpredictable, constantly in need of attention, food, help... you realize, oh my, I may not be the "perfect" parent I had hoped to be. And yes, at times this can bring you down. My children are not me... they are their own people with their own crazy and beautiful and sometimes exhausting ideas. I love them. That part has never been hard. But yeash, getting through the day can sometimes take a great deal of effort and a good deal of coffee. I do things as a mother that I never thought I would do quite so often... I yell (sometimes curse), I bribe, I use shows to distract, I tune out, I go a little crazy and when I've had my limits, I call for reinforcements. I am not wearing these things as a badge of pride (I'd like to do some of these things much less, but I know that these things are human.) Mother's are not heavenly angels or the Hindu Goddess Durga with a zillion arms and unfailing patience. We are people that sometimes have a zillion arms and unfailing patience and put on our angel wings, but mostly do what we can. I want to be a peaceful parent. I want to rise above the chaos. I want my blood not to boil when the kids start to scream. I want to join in the play. Sometimes I do, sometimes I fail to meet my own expectations. I won't even tell you how many times I have been interrupted in the course of writing this short post... ok, 308. And ninety percent of that was screaming (and only the last one was because she fell and hurt herself). Anyways, in honor of this past Mother's Day, I want to pledge to do two things:

1) drink more coffee
2) eat more chocolate
3) go on vacation because clearly I can't count anymore

Just kidding! Here's the real things:
1) Be more present for my kids
2) Go easier on myself

Strangely, I think these things will help me do less of all the bad habits I have as a parent. Anyways, mother's, father's and everything in between, I hope you can do these things for yourself too... and of course, eat more chocolate... the good stuff... extra dark. Now I have a half naked baby in need of a new diaper and a little one with an ouchy to attend to.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

19/52 Mud amd Rocks

"A picture of my girls, once a week, every week in 2014"  
Elsa: a hard working one year old... time to stop counting the months, and start counting the years, sigh
Oona: "Mama, can I be a mermaid and sit on the rock?"

Happy Mother's Day to all the wild, loving, hard working mamas out there!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Happy Birthday Elsa Bernadette

 My beautiful pixie turned one yesterday! Happy Birthday sweet girl! You've changed so much in this one year, and you've changed me too! With your new found mobility you're off into the world, like a great explorer, waiting to see what's around the next bend... maybe cake, maybe presents, maybe a mama to hug and love you!

We celebrated at the park with some of our local friends with blueberry and strawberry cake (both her favorites), ribbon wands, balls and bubbles. It was bit blustery... early May in VT is a bit of a long shot for an outdoor party, but I think it was still quite fun.

Our first daffodil bloomed for my wee girls birthday, giving me the perfect excuse to pick it and put it on the table. And we had some colorful paper flowers too for our park celebration, thanks to some help from my Mom the day before (and a really delicious strawberry shortcake, thanks to my dad).

I'm so in awe of this little girl. She truly is amazing, as is her big sister. As I've done every month for this past year, here's what she's up to now:

- getting to be a pro at walking
- sitting in every chair she can get into (standing when I'm not looking)
- laughing like a little clown ("aharharhar")
- saying a lot (not sure what, but she's saying it)
- starting to get cuddly with people and stuffed animals
- says"mmm" to give kisses
- does "downward dog" yoga pose all the time
- enjoys playing dress up by throwing things around her neck and head
- says "yeah" when she wants something
- is eating most things we can eat (whip cream on strawberry shortcake for her birthday was pretty life changing for her)
- still has the most impish smile I've ever seen

Happy Birthday my littlest darlin'!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rainbows and Butterfly Wings

I suppose there is something good to show for all this rain... rainbows and green grass. Oh, but I do hope that the chance of rain in tomorrow's forecast is nothing but a sprinkle. We have big plans for a May Day Festival, the same one we went to last year the day before Miss Elsa was born.

Well, a new flower crown, butterfly wings and a unicorn horn have been made... unicorn and raccoon tails still to make. Back to work! May the Merry Merry May Queen bring us some good weather the next couple days for parades and birthday celebrations!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Sunshine Soup

 We've been plagued with sickness here for several weeks... sometimes colds, sometimes flu-like... not fun at all. And I'm sure all the April showers haven't helped one bit, keeping us trapped inside. For a brief intermission in rain drops yesterday, we were able to get outside, and it was glorious, despite stuffy noses and the like. Sunshine is a wonderous thing!  I've been trying everything to shake these last bits of winter gloom that have made us sluggish and tired and filled with congestion.  I always drink copious amounts of tea, but I've added a new kind to my arsenal. My local natural foods co-op just added tulsi tea to their bulk bins, and when I read the description as being a healing tea, I had to give it a try. And while I have no idea if it really heals yet, it's warm vapors and sweet earthy taste were very soothing, to say the least.

I also concocted a brothy vegetarian soup filled with good things to help speed recovery. It was supposed to be a lemongrass broth, but part way through the cooking, I realized the dried lemongrass I thought I had was no longer in my kitchen, despite searching high and low and in between so I tried to simulate the flavor using lemon juice and and cilantro. I think it was quite delicious if I do say so myself!

Sunshine Soup Recipe:
-  3-4cloves garlic diced
- half large onion diced (about a cup and a half)
- 1/4 of a head of broccoli chopped
- 3-4 carrots shaved into large chunks
- 2-3 scallions diced
- 5-7 dried kaffir lime leaves (optional... can be found in Thai food section of grocery store or at a natural food co-op... has a lime and cilantro-like taste. You don't have to eat them, just leave them in for flavor like with a bay leaf or remove before serving)
- 1 tsp dried lemongrass (if you have it, hehe)
- 1 inch chunk of fresh ginger diced
- 2-3 tbsp coconut oil
- tbsp olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne (more or less depending on how spicy you want it) 
- honey 1/2 tbsp
- 1/4 large lemon squeezed
- 1/2 package of rice noodles
- handful of fresh cilantro chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- one egg (optional)
- water

How to Make it:
- Heat olive oil and coconut oil in soup pan. Add garlic and onion and saute on medium to low setting until onions are a translucent golden color and soft to the touch.
- Add broccoli, carrots, scallions, ginger, cayenne, chili powder, lemongrass, honey and kaffir lime leaves and saute 2-5minutes
- Add water covering vegetables by 2 to 3 inches and bring to a boil.
- Add rice noodles... when noodles are almost tender, add egg if desired... beat into soup with a fork so that it breaks into small pieces. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add additional water and heat if needed. Turn off heat.
- Add lemon, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.

And you're done! Stand in the sunshine and take in the warm vapors before you have a bite!

This soup has a decidedly Thai flavor and is full of healthy yum things. Leave out the egg and substitute the honey to make it Vegan friendly. To your health!