Thursday, May 31, 2012


restitution (noun): and act of restoring or a condition of being restored

What a gift- a rainy morning to kick off the last day of May!

A little thunder, some far-away lightening, and the soft, constant fall of a soaking rain- this is what greeted me when I woke this morning, and it was as refreshing as that first cold front at the end of September.

Everyone slept in a little bit more than usual, and everyone seemed perfectly content to focus on slow, peaceful projects throughout the beginning of our day- coloring, bread making, blocks, dancing to mellow folk music... I couldn't have crafted a better sendoff to that darned transitional month that is May. With it's hotter-than-Hades heat flashes and strangely chilly nights spotted here and there throughout dry, then humid days upon days, it was easy to feel as though we'd all been tricked into skipping the end of our Spring and plunging straight into June! Yet as moody as May was at times, today, all was forgiven, and with this one last rainy morning, we received our restitution. 


Wednesday, May 30, 2012


So... do you have carrots in your garden? Ever hear of root knot nematodes? I hadn't... until this year, when my carrots started coming out of the ground like this:



I looked around in the interwebs for a suggestion to what in the good green earth was going on, and came across the suggestion of nematodes. I then brought a twisted carrot to our local nursery, and had my theory confirmed- nematodes, indeed. An organism that naturally exists in all soils in relative balance (there are good nematodes and bad nematodes... one guess as to which I have more of), though something in my soil has caused an imbalance, lucky me. There is nothing wrong with the carrot itself, it is just forced into weird shapes as it grows. Kinda cool... in a sad kind of way...

This week, I finally got around to cleaning out my garden, and I had to pull a big bunch of these twisty veggies to let some sunlight in to a too-shaded area.

When nematodes there be, it is so much more obvious that this familiar veg is actually a root.

So... what to do with all these gnarly carrots?

What to do indeed...

They may be ugly, but they sure are delicious! Tonight: pot roast with potatoes, onions, and CARROTS!

The carrot cake pictured above was my first attempt at making a 'healthy' version of the calorie-laden favorite we all love, and though the flavor was perfect, the texture was way to dense for me to share the recipe... yet. The carrot bread, however, was excellent... 

Carrot Bread
(usually our Zucchini Bread recipe... just sub zucchini for the carrots and there you go)

 3 C finely shredded carrots (or zucchini... or a combo of both)
1 1/3 C (scant) sugar
2/3 C veg oil (I think coconut oil would work here, 
but hubs doesn't like it, so I left it out... this time)
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs at room temp
3 C whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 generous tsp cinnamon
pinch of cloves
walnuts, if desired

Move oven rack to bottom of oven, so that loaves' tops will be in the center when baking. Preheat oven to 350F and grease 2 loaf pans. Mix shredded carrots, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs. Add remaining ingredients to combined carrot mixture, adding nuts last (if using). Fill loaf pans 1/2 full and bake for 50-60 mins. or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting (or loaf will be too gummy/crumbly), freezes well.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

(A Late) Right Now

Right now, I'm loving...



...and down
...the beauty of the surviving garden

...telling secrets
...a little extra help in the kitchen

...evening light
...backyard birthday parties

...the first watermelon of the season

...a weekend that was long, warm, spontaneous, bright, sticky, full, and thoroughly celebrated. This weekend was a perfect weekend to remind us all of how much we have to be thankful for, and it did just that. Happy.......... Tuesday!

Friday, May 25, 2012

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: {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, May 24, 2012

The Seasons

Our oldest is beginning to grasp the concept of 'seasons,' and using that abstract concept to explain time (and the passage of it) is starting to help put her whole big world into context.

She's figured out that her birthday is in Autumn, which is when it gets cooler outside (or at least, it's supposed to get cooler). From there, she figured out that we are at the end of Spring, and we have to go all the way through Summer, when it's very hot, to get close to her birthday.

She also knows that Autumn brings the browning of the cattails, and that means she can then pick them, squish them to make 'bubbles,' and then watch the seeds prolifically float on the breeze (the next best thing to her birthday).

She says,
"In the Summer season, we go swimming at Nanny and Granddaddy's and Grammy and Gramps' and Mimmy and Pappy's pools."


"My birfday is in the Autumn season and we get to dress in cosTOOOOms and knock on the neighbors' doors and put candy in my pumpkin bucket."


"Spring is when it feels hot but it's not Summer yet."

It is a bit challenging to try and explain four separate seasons to a girl who lives in an area where there only seems to be two- the hot one, and the cooler one. I've just resigned myself to cross my fingers for a 'good' Autumn or Winter, and lean on beautiful books about the four seasons to fill in all the gaps. Some of our favorites include:

Spring is Here by Taro Gomi (a gift from a great friend that quickly firmed up it's place in the regular rotation)

Seasons by Anne Crausaz

A Summertime Song by Irene Haas

The Four Seasons of Mary Azarian by Mary Azarian

Mother Earth and All Her Children by Sibylle von Olfers

It's fun to talk about the seasons with a kiddo who is just opening her eyes to the changing world around her. It does me some good, too, because through her eyes I can find appreciation for parts of our seasons that aren't exactly my favorite... and I believe that within that wonder lies the key to getting lost in each day, which in turn is the only way to slow down this fleeting childhood that I am privileged to be a part of... even if that does mean fighting the urge to wish away those sweltering summer days, and instead stopping to actually savor them. *sigh*

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Soft Molasses Cookies

My mom is a savant when it comes to cooking up... well... anything, really, but especially treats like cheesecakes and cookies. One of the recipes she came up with in my youth that causes cravings, y'all, is her Soft Ginger Cookies with Citrus Glaze. She gave me the recipe once, when we thought we might make them and sell them... unfortunately, they are time-consuming, very fragile and perishable, and I can't help but eat one myself for every one finished for someone else. Needless to say, that idea didn't get very far... but at least I had The Recipe.

Then- tragedy of all culinary tragedies- I lost the recipe she gave me. I'm sure I'll find it somewhere in my kitchen some day... it'll be somewhere obscure, like the inside of my potato bin or something, that seemed like the perfect 'safe place' at the time to stash such a precious confectionery masterpiece... you know, one of those places where you think, 'My recipe book is waaaay too obvious of a place for this little gem, but if I put it here, I'll always remember where it is and no one else will stumble upon it!' Darn the luck.

Bad news, though, loosing the recipe doesn't quell the cravings. Rather than swallow my pride and ask for it again (and risk it not actually being the same, since she doesn't technically cook or bake using recipes, and would ballpark the ingredients' measurements for my sake, which would get me close but not close enough, since the only way to get the real recipe is to take notes while she is baking them, which is how I got the recipe the first time), I delved into my cookbooks, and came up with this close runner up, courtesy of Betty Crocker (plus a few of my own tweaks). The citrus glaze is just the icing on the cake, so to speak (ha, ha), and not really a complicated secret, so that, I know, is at least pretty genuine.

So, without further adieu, here is a daughter's attempt at replicating something great:

Soft Molasses Cookies with (or without) Citrus Glaze
(based on Betty Crocker's Soft Molasses Cookies from this book)
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C sour cream
1/2 C (1 stick) butter at room temp
1/2 C shortening
1/2 C blackstrap molasses, unsulphured if possible
1 large egg
3 C unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375F (don't use convection setting if possible, cookies will dry out too fast). Cream sugar with sour cream, butter, and shortening until fluffy. Add egg, molasses, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Add flour mixture to molasses mixture and carefully combine, making sure you don't over-mix (will be a very light, very sticky dough). Dollop with spoon in mounds about 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about ten minutes, or until edges are just golden and centers no longer look shiny. Cool completely before trying to lift from parchment, because these guys are soft and will fall apart if handled warm. Glaze- once cooled- if desired.

Citrus Glaze

~1 C powdered sugar
zest from one orange, tangerine, or tangelo
juice from same orange, tangerine, or tangelo (zest before juicing)
zest from one lemon
juice from half of same lemon

Combine sugar and zests, then slowly add juices until desired glaze consistency is achieved. Spoon over cooled cookies and allow to dry completely before handling. 

*Do not stack these cookies unless you put waxed paper or parchment paper between the layers or they will stick together, with or without the glaze!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kiddie "Cowl"

This morning, Henry got in to my bag of yarn and knitting stuff, the likes of which have been tucked away since December-ish, when I finished my last gift project and pushed it all out of sight!

As I watched him gleefully pull out the skeins and scraps, an udon-noodle-esque, tangled ball of leftovers from Aunt KK's Christmas cowl caught my eye. I started thinking about some quick and easy way to use up the very short piece left behind... something that could be Sister's, since she has arrived at an age where she just adores things Mama makes for her... something that would end up close to her, where the softness of the yarn could truly be felt and appreciated... something within my skill level, too, of course... well, that doesn't leave much... time to improvise!

I love knitting with really, really big, fat, bulky, fuzzy yarn... it almost feels like cheating, because it comes together so incredibly fast (seriously, I only cast on 4 stitches for this little 'cowl,' and I finished it in less than an hour, including the button).

This was my first time doing a button hole, and I kinda think that was easier, too, because of the super-hugeness of the yarn and stitches. Honestly, I probably could have just cast on the very first stitch really loosely and ended up with a pretty good button hole, too.

Anyho, I was able to finish this little project during nap time (which is quickly becoming just a 'quiet time' for Sister, who only sleeps about once a week and plays quietly every other day for her nap time). When I presented the finished 'cowl' to my sweet, happy girl, I tried to explain that this would be something she could wear when the seasons change to autumn (or maybe even winter) and it becomes cooler outside. She, however, would have none of that, and despite the fact that it was over 90 degrees today, wore it out to the sandbox and kept it on for almost 30 mins.


After about thirty minutes of watching her dig in the sand, sun beating down on her well-insulated neck, I had to insist that she relinquish it to the coat closet for cooler weather (though it was not without a tinge of pride at the thought of her liking it that much).

I believe that was an hour of my afternoon well spent.

Right Now

Right now, I am...

...marveling at how fast this weekend flew by... seriously, it's Monday already? Yowza.
...listening to some Elizabeth Mitchell, mixed with some choice Gillian Welch and Sting.
...waiting for some news that could rock our little world around here (can't wait to share... soon)!
...watching the monitor as both sweet babies sleep in various stages of sprawl and ball.
...enjoying a hot cup of tea en lieu of my usual coffee (this tea pot has me doing crazy things).
...anticipating much chatter from Sister when she wakes about the weekend she had filled with both sets of grandparents, the fun that was had, and the new treasures that came with them.
...thinking about doing some major cleaning out of garden beds today, and maybe planting some flowers to fill in for the rest of this wasted season... maybe (sigh).
...hoping that this 30% chance we have of getting a few storms turns in to a gray and rainy day for us all!
...loving that, after almost four years (four years!), there are now- for the first time ever- ten daisy buds in my daisy patch, and one has finally opened!
...wishing all a great kickoff to the week! Happy Monday.