Sunday, November 30, 2014

30 Days of Gratitude 2014

Another November has come to an end, and just like last year, I'm wrapping it up by joining in the 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge. I must admit I found it much more challenging this year to keep up with the photo-per-day rhythm, and had to double (sometimes triple) up on photos some days to make the quota! An interesting parallel to the difficulty in daily life of focusing enough to truly and regularly feel grateful, no?

I did, however, wholly embrace the chance to meditate on that feeling of gratitude while looking through all the simple things in my life, spread across my screen, that inspired me during the month.

1: Beauty

2: Laughter

3: Dreams (maybe some day.........)

4: Wisdom

5: Inspiration
6: Details

7: Attire
8: Friends (most of the time)
9: Home

10: Kindness
11: Art
12: Seasons

13: Taste

14: Nostalgia

15: Nature
16: Comfort
17: Work
18: Change
19: New
20: Routine

21: Scent

22: Relax

23: Travel

24: Love
25: Creation

26: Sound
27: Family

28: Desire
29: Weather
30: Self

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving.

This is only our fourth Thanksgiving with our complete foursome, and looking back on them all since our Caboose joined in the photos, it truly sharpens the senses to all the moments flying by in these precious early years with Littles.

Today we engage in all our traditions; the same-old-same-old that couldn't be more different as each year comes and goes. This year both kids are out of diapers, both kids grasp the concept of the holidays and are looking forward to the merriment, and both parents are a little teary-eyed that yet another round is upon us.

"I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness-
it's right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude."
~Brene Brown

Today, may we all have eyes open to the extraordinary 'usual' moments this holiday, and may we all remember to practice gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Making Noms

We're kicking off this week with the prep of a few goodies never tried before- this year, we're bringing ferments to our feast(s)!

The first ruby-red gem we're making is what I'm calling a digestive tonic, though it'll probably turn into "bubbly juice," as Audrey calls it... and that name will probably get more people to try it! Inspired by a few recipes I read for fermented cranberry sauce (which had stuff like pecans and raisins in them, both of which will have family noses turned up), this cranberry drink will pack a nutritional punch and some fizzy bubbles that will be perfect alongside my turkey and dressing!

Cranberry-Orange "Bubbly Juice"
Makes about 1500 mL

1.5 quarts warm-ish un-chlorinated water
1 1/2 cups raw honey
1 lb organic cranberries (fresh or frozen)
zest from 1 orange (organic, since you're consuming the peel!)
1/2 inch grated fresh ginger
1/2 inch grated fresh turmeric
pinch of yeast

In a food processor, blend cranberries (thaw first if using frozen) until coarsely chopped. Pour into container with at least a half-gallon capacity, add zest, ginger, and turmeric, then dissolve honey into warm-ish water and pour over cranberry mixture. Stir in pinch of yeast, cover with a cloth and secure with a rubber band to prevent fruit fly contamination, and let sit on counter top at room temperature for 3-4 days.

Stir 2-3 times daily, and by the second day start smelling and tasting for preferred level of fermentation. Fizzy bubbles should appear by the end of the day and grow more vigorous (you'll hear them when you're stirring). If you let it sit to the point when the fruit sinks and the bubbles stop, congrats, you've made an alcoholic bev! It's still good, but now the kiddos can't have any!

Once the cranberry drink is fizzy and smells a little, well, fermented, strain out the solids and refrigerate that stuff (adjust sweetness to your taste if needed)! Drink within 5-7 days or alcohol content will rise up beyond what you'd want to serve to the whole family. 

Beware: pressure will build in a sealed container, even in the fridge, so store in a carafe or plastic container with screw-top lid so you can gauge pressure with a little squeeze to the sides and release it every once-in-a-while if necessary!

The second little treat we're working on over here is courtesy of our girls, and is also something I haven't tried before: fermented eggs. 

I know! Don't gross out- they're going to be like pickled eggs, only better, and better for you!

I read about them over at Oh Lardy and gave it a go, and they'll be ready for testing by the end of the day today! Love it- uses up eggs? Check! Increases nutrition and health benefits? Check! Quick turnover and near-instant gratification? Check, check!

Depending on their texture, I plan on turning them in to deviled eggs with tasty things on top like bacon and chives. See? I knew in the end they wouldn't sound gross.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand just in case we were getting a little too healthy or 'out there,' we've also made these:

We love making noms! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Right Now

Right now, I'm still loving the holiday break kickoff from Audrey and her classmates; the distracted off-key songs, the hand-made (one-eyed, in our case) turkey headbands, and the pride in the success of the production that has lingered. I feel certain I'll get to hear encores of the turkey- and Pilgrim-based songs throughout the week as we prep for our Thanksgiving feast(s), and I'm totally OK with that.

What a fun way to head off A's first school break! And now, we're off to the grocery store!

Happy Thanksgiving week, and happy Monday!

Friday, November 21, 2014

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, November 20, 2014

Cleaning Up

We finally got a warm-up from that deep freeze that rolled in last week, and as soon as the sun hit the garden out we went.



Remember this space the last time we walked it? Holy cow, did that hard freeze do a number on... well, everything.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: gardening in Texas is hard. Just when it gets cool enough for things to take hold and perk back up after the summer, we get weird, early, hardcore freezes.

This fall garden was on it's way to stardom. It's painful to see what was lost when our lows dipped into the teens. It only took a few nights, and it was so-long to it all. The worst was the mammoth tomato plant, which I wrapped greenhouse-style with heavy-duty shower curtains. It was loaded with green tomatoes and flowers, and now it's compost fodder.


Live and learn.

So with the first warm(er) day and the help of the chickens, I cleaned up the garden and finally relented to this season of rest- to bed go the beds. I think this weekend I may sow some winter rye in the beds that don't have perennials or garlic, but basically this space is on break until the spring.

Bittersweet really, because though I regret what was lost, I'm glad to have this season under our belt and out of the daily chore rotation.

Now to place my orders for spring seed catalogs and focus on the winter holidays!