Monday, September 30, 2013

Right Now

Right now, I'm loving...

...a weekend that was rainy, then sunny, then chilly until the sunrise; a weekend that was full of outside play, time with Daddy, apples and prickly pears, pie and soup; a weekend that was peaceful, productive, filling and recharging.

We bid farewell to September this weekend with our first box of fall apples from the co-op (bound to be applesauce, almost the whole lot of 'em), a "hayride" on the giant pillow behind Daddy's lawnmower, and every possible meal out on the picnic table. It doesn't feel like today will be the last day spent before we welcome back October, but with mornings starting out in the high 50s it's easier to believe! 

So today, adieu sweet September, I can't believe you're already on your way out... how time flies, so bittersweet! Thanks for the rain, the break (finally) in the late summer heat, and the beautiful, beautiful weekends.

May we all find something to be thankful for amid the bittersweet. Happy Monday!

Friday, September 27, 2013

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.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

'Stuffed Hatch Chile' Orzo

I was going through our co-op share this past weekend and it hit me- another reason why I love the Fall... hatch chilies! But one can only stuff them and wrap them in bacon so many times without drawing rolled eyes at dinner, yes?

So what about making that beloved dish into a pasta side? Like maybe orzo?

Oh. Yeah. And I totally did. Here's what I had:

Orzo in the style of Stuffed Hatch Chilies
Recipe is per one uncooked cup of orzo, so determine serving size based on 
package prep recommendations. 

1 box/package orzo pasta
small hatch chilies (one chile per cup uncooked pasta)
 chicken broth (sub for water called for per package cooking directions)
olive oil & butter
roasted garlic cloves (2 per cup uncooked orzo, or sub 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
smoked paprika (1/4 tsp per cup uncooked orzo)
salt & pepper to taste
fresh lime juice (1/2 lime per cup uncooked orzo, or sub 1 TBS white vinegar or pickled jalapeno brine)
cream cheese (2 oz per cup uncooked orzo)
shredded sharp cheddar (1/4 cup per cup uncooked orzo)

And here's what I did:

Split hatch chiles and carefully cut out seeds and veins- wear gloves! Hatch chilies can be both mild and hot,
and you don't want to handle one of the hot ones with bare hands, trust me! 

Finely dice the cleaned chilies. Saute chilies in olive oil and butter, melting in 2-3 cloves of roasted garlic
or adding in powdered garlic after 3-5 mins.
Once chilies start to soften add in orzo and toast a little, almost like you would with
arborio rice when making risotto.  Then, also like making risotto, add in broth, paprika, and
salt/pepper to taste. Stir until creamy and pasta is cooked. Add lime juice, cream cheese,
and cheddar.
Serve right away, as the combo of cheeses and the method of stirring
orzo as it cooks will make this pasta become gummy-ish as it cools.

We had our orzo alongside sticky apple juice glazed chicken drumsticks, which were a great balance to this tangy, cheesy pasta side. Plus, having hatch chilies and apple-something in the same meal made it really feel autumn-ish, which is just what we wanted.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013


A portrait of my kids every week for 52 weeks.

A few more from our rainy day- the first one since mid-June.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Right Now

Right now, I'm...

...sitting in the darkness of early morning with the back door and several windows open, enjoying actually having goosebumps from the chilly air.
...still smelling the freshness from the rain we had on Friday (the first good rain since mid-June!).
...looking around at all the little projects accomplished over the weekend with the help of in-laws willing to share more than 48 hours with us and dedicate that time to working on our to-do list (not to mention also giving us the chance to go out on the town for a bit, just the two of us).
...planning on scrambling up some of the organic free-range local eggs I scored at a farmer's market/festival on Saturday... for $3.75 per dozen!
...working the first of the season's soups into our menus (who cares if temps are supposed to start reaching back up into the 90s by the end of the week? It's real fall now!)... and one of those soups will definitely have to be broccoli cheese.
...itching to get back into our woods and pick up where I left off, now that the first car-sized brush pile has been flattened to ashes.
...beginning my holiday gift lists, and keeping many an inspiration on my gift ideas Pinterest board.
...looking forward to a few fall crafts with the kiddos.
...wondering if sweet potato pie is wholesome enough for breakfast... I'm sure there's value in the veggie part of it, no?
...loving the full embrace of my favorite season!

Right now there is a crispness in the air and a refreshed energy all around us that can only come from the first breath of northern air after a long, hot summer. It's not just the birds and trees that feel that autumnal spirit; we all can't help but soak up that energy and let it permeate all the way to our bones... and so we will.

May everyone's week kick off with that same refreshed energy. Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


So many around me, on September 1st, cracked out the apple cider, the pumpkin pie spices, the candles, and the cinnamon sticks to welcome "Fall." I'm sorry, but when it's 101 outside, things have already browned, and the leaves are falling from trees- not because of the seasonal change, but because of the drought- I struggle to be in the mood for cozy stuff.

Plus, I'm such a cynic. It's not Fall yet... not until the equinox. So there.

However, it's late September now, and today/tonight the light will struggle it's last with the encroaching darkness to keep the scales tipped in it's favor... and it will loose. Now it's fall... at least around these parts, at least to me.

A season so anticipated and treasured that I almost want to put off acknowledging it, as if that will make it last longer.

Acknowledge it we will, though, with our little annual autumnal celebration- a growing family tradition for the marking of the equinox.

We'll make our sweet potato pie, we'll gather leaves, we'll light candles, and we'll play outside. Then, in the days following, we'll really embrace autumn and really focus on being present for this beautiful, transitional, fleeting season... now that it's really here.

Happy Fall.

Friday, September 20, 2013

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.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Just a Dream... For Now

This morning my head is off in Future Plans Dreamland. When I let the dog out I heard the neighbors' roosters crowing and cows mooing, and I blame them for setting me off.

One of the reasons why we worked so diligently at finding what amounted to Our New Home is because of what we want to do with it. Our list of what we want to do with our new spot in the 'country' came from all the things we couldn't do with our old place. Granted, there were also more practical driving factors behind our move, like our old floor plan just not working, the overbearing rules of the HOA, and the fact that our yard had a grand total of four trees.

Now, as our to-do list becomes more and more manageable and realistic, I find myself coming up for air and thinking about things I want to do with our place.

Things like gardens.

Planting fruit trees.


Chickens... and maybe even a couple or three goats down the road.

These things I've dreamed about, read about, and dreamed about some more for years. They all feel tangible now, and I just can't help myself when it comes to glancing around the place and seeing it as I want it to be in the five year plan.

First, because I'm a hands-on learner, I've decided I need to find a place where I can go to really immerse myself in the experience of keeping bees. I've read Keeping Bees by Ashley English and thumbed through The Hive and the Honey Bee (a thrift store score for fifty cents!), but it's such a foreign world to me, this world of the apiarist. There is something magical, ancient, and beautiful about keeping bees, and I want to take my first steps in this world with caution and as much prep as possible. Luckily for me, there are two resources I can draw from to start this journey as prepared as possible: The Texas Beekeepers Association is one, with locations everywhere and membership ranging from the most seasoned of beekeepers to folks like me. The second is the Metro Beekeepers Association, a club more specific to my area with open meetings and opportunities for hands-on learning... ah-ha! So step one of five-year plan: join beekeepers association.

Second, I need to figure out exactly where my garden will go, because honestly I feel downright off without one, and missing an entire season has been a bummer. Where our old place only had four trees, our new place has woods. A blessing and a curse, really, because while we love love love the dense beauty and privacy of our own little wilderness, there's not much openness to offer 8 hours of sunlight for a veggie garden. That translates to finding a place where trees have to be cut down and cleared... I guess all I can do is try and pick a place that minimizes the clearing and then hope we can clear enough to make it worth it!

Third, I need to- wait, I get to- plan my chicken coop and chicken run! Oh how I've longed for this task! I grew up with chickens at my mom and dad's place, I kinda know the ropes and basics, and I feel certain that this will happen sooner rather than later. The hard part and the delight of it all is planning exactly how this step will be realized here at my home. I've already mentioned the 'chicken garden' plan I've found, and honestly I'm pretty sure however we go about this our end product will resemble this design in some way. I've also found inspiration from Reinventing the Chicken Coop by Kevin McElroy and Matthew Wolpe, Free-Range Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom, and another all-informative and general info go-to from the Homemade Living series, Keeping Chickens by Ashley English. Somewhere in these resources is my perfect setup, and I can't wait to see it!

Lastly, I believe at some point I'll start pining for goats (or if I'm being honest with myself... maybe I already am?). I've read that they'll eat anything, which will definitely be a selling point for the hubs as we're surrounded by scrub, brush, wild vines, and weeds. Like I said, though, that's much more long-term.

For today, though, I'll just have to pacify myself by drifting off into our future little mini-farm, walking through our apple and peach trees in my mind's eye, tossing kitchen scraps to our chickens and collecting their still-warm eggs, and watching our bees move from flower to flower in our garden with a smile, even though it's just a dream... for now.

Photos taken during our trip to the pumpkin patch last year.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


A portrait of my kids every week for 52 weeks.

Henry in the morning, catching me trying to sneak up for a picture from behind.
Audrey in the evening, looking for signs of autumn.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Right Now

"Our Pillow Party for Mimmy and Pappy and Daddy"

Right now, I'm...

...watching steam rise from freshly boiled eggs, highlighted by the sunlight coming through the window, and feeling overwhelmed by how much beauty there can be in everyday things (and surprising myself at how optimistic I apparently am this morning).
...finding less beauty in the condition of the floor after this past weekends' activities (ah, there's my cynicism again).
...hoping I'll get a share of the first round of this season's fall apples from the co-op come registration time this afternoon!
...feeling over the moon with a simple little "invitation" made by my smart girl this weekend (see photo caption for translation). She sounded out, spelled, and wrote the whole thing by herself, no help. *tear*
...finding myself completely absorbed in a new-to-me series, and staying up way too late cramming just one more episode into the evening before turning in (if you've seen it, no spoilers, and I know I know I'm a little behind the times). for some upholstered chairs for around our new dining table.
...worrying way too much (or not enough?) about a mountain lion sighting at the neighbor's house... at four in the afternoon... and wondering exactly what I could even do about it.
...loving how much help there was around the house this weekend, despite the fact that it was just the four of us for the majority of it (also loving that the 'help' got my car all spiffed up while they were at it!).

This Monday is kicking off with a little restless energy around the house... maybe there's a change in the weather coming... maybe I'll finally gather the momentum I need to start all the Christmas projects I want to accomplish in the next- gasp- 99 days... or maybe we'll all just drive each other crazy. Who knows?

Here's to a positive spin on restless energy! Happy Monday.

Friday, September 13, 2013

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.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Slow and Steady

This morning as I was eating breakfast with the kiddos on the picnic table, I caught myself thinking, 'Man, if only we could get more mornings like this one... I'd get back out into the woods and clear out some more brush!'

Then the stupidity of that thought hit me and I went inside, changed into my grubby jeans and shoes, and dove in. I mean, really, in this area and this season, how could I sit there and waste a morning of ideal weather wishing for more ideal weather?

Well, I could have stood for it to be 10-15 degrees cooler, but compared to last week this morning was ideal.

So out I went this morning, and two hours later I had another story on the top of our now-towering burn pile, a few new blisters and scrapes, and a few more yards of woods opened up.

Before I got started...

...and after.
I was able to open up more of the woods that you see immediately out the family/dining room windows, though I hit a few spots that made me detour (like the area on the right side of that large central oak that is composed mostly of dead and fallen over trees... I'll need a chainsaw and an assistant to tackle that... and the area on the left border of the picture where a copperhead slithered out of reach and out of sight).

It's slow going, and I swear it feels like way more than what it looks like when you're out there dragging the brambles to the burn pile! It's a good thing we're not wanting to clear all the wooded acreage, though! Right now we're only wanting to be able to see into it a little more than a few feet, and maybe some trails here and there... eventually.

This has only been my third go of it, and I feel satisfied with my slow and steady progress. I'm only one gal, after all. And what is it they say?

Oh yeah- slow and steady wins the race... or something like that.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


A portrait of my kids every week for 52 weeks.

A green bubble wand diptych today,
photos by Aunt KK.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Right Now

Right now, I'm loving...

...4-yr-old kinetic energy, all weekend long

...the way this guy still fits his whole body in my lap when he hurts.

...butterflies and a tutu first thing Saturday morning.

...a birthday party full of friends and family, for the hubs.

...the way this guy's body can spread out almost the entire length of mine
when he's feeling good.

...throwing a head of garlic in the oven every time it's hot, and then using roasted garlic in everything all weekend long.

...visiting the neighbors.

...excited faces when cinnamon rolls await sleepy kiddos
the morning after a late night. 
Right now we are in recovery mode after a weekend that felt twice as long as it actually was- in the best way. We'll be putting things back together, catching up on missed naps and way-too-late bedtimes, and smiling every time we think about the fun we had.

Hoping there is something for everyone to smile about as we start the week. Happy Monday.