Friday, December 18, 2009


This is my boy helping to mix up the batter for our Hanukah jelly donuts. It was the first time I made them and it was a good experience.

Next year I will know to roll the dough even thinner. Althought the doughnuts tasted good they got a little over cooked simply becasue the dough was too thick and it took too long for the insdie to cook properly. Oh well, I'll try again next year.

A lovely latke image. Home made with local potaoes, eggs and onions. These are topped with applesauce and greek yogurt. Ususally I would have used sour cream but I find that the Fage brand 0% fat yogurt is a fantastic replacement and I even like the taste better than sour cream. Of course traditionally edamame are not eaten with latkes but I figured they were what I had avaialble and they were a protein to add to the meal.

Here's our menorah. We got a lot of enjoyment out of lighting it this year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Flicker Holiday Market

Flicker Holiday Market

Date: Saturday, December 19, 2009

Time: 11:00am - 5:00pm

Location: Flicker Theatre and Bar

hello all. flicker is holding its annual holiday market extravaganza with arts/crafts/foods! come get your last minute shopping on with locally- crafted goodies!some of our talented vendors include: thebeadtanicalgarden, purcell toys, mikulka polish foods, avid bookstore, jim wilson with pies, will eskridge, stephanie blair, don chambers with pies and fortune- telling bleigiessen, amy west, ryan admas, emily pitts with scarves, mary beths and emilys mommy, shes made well, chris creech and some new talents never seen before...

drink specials all day and hope for agoldensummer later in the evening!

Fröhliche Weihnachten und ein gutes neues Jahr!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Athens Locally Crafted

I just updated my membership and listings on the Athens Locally Crafted website. If you know about the Locally Grown movement, well this is pretty much the same idea. You can browse hand crafted items made in your local area (well in the Athens, GA area) but you dont have to live here to order. This is just another way to promote the local economy and get folks sharing their work with others. Check us out at

You can find a great sampling of jewelery, holiday cards, soaps and candles, knitwear and a plethora of other items. Happy shopping.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins (11/2009)


2C unbleached white flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
Pinch of nutmeg

1/3 C canola oil
2/3 C maple syrup
1 egg
1T vanilla extract
1C cooked pumpkin
½ C Edensoy edenblend

Preheat the oven to 375

In a large bowl sift together dry ingredients.

In a blender add all the liquid ingredients and process until smooth.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix with a whisk just until all liquid is absorbed.

Lightly oil a muffin tin and fill each place about halfway.

Bake approximately 35 minutes or until just golden.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Getting ready for the holiday markets this past weekend. I soent many hours emersed in tiny Czech glass beads and wire. I loved it, staying up way too late, looking at all of the colors, imagining how they would all look when finished.

here's my work table as I begin to gather various items together.

my clips in drying mode

flowers and butterflies flow forth, bright vibrant colors, warm, inviting. I took part in two markets this weekend. Friday night at the Railroad Arts District and that was a total blast. Music, fires and a lot of folks. Of course at the end of the night I ran over a hidden railroad tie and blew a tire, exactly the kind of thing that would happen to me. I was glad that my mom was there and sne dout a big thanks to Will and Dan who changed the tire for me. Hoestly, I could have done it myslef, but since they offered...
Then on Saturday and Sunday I wa in the Athens Indie Craftstravaganza. It was downtown in and we had toms of folks on Saturday and yesterday was busy too. There were a lot of crafters there peddling their wares. Little man had a great time and is working on honing his bartering skills when seeing something he wants. I have now repeatedly heard him using the phrase, "My mom makes jewelery, would be interested in a trade?"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thanksgiving Stuffing

Thanksgiving stuffing 2009

1 stick butter

2 shallots
1 medium onion
2c diced celery
1 bulb garlic minced
3c sliced mushrooms
¼ t ground black pepper

1T tarragon soaked in 1/2c riesling

15c bread cubes ( ½“ x ½”)
8c stock of choice
¼ c riesling

1 ½ c roasted chopped pecans

In a very large skillet or pot melt 2T butter and add shallot and onion, cook stirring gently until onions are translucent. Add 1T butter and celery and cook 3 minutes. Add 1T butter, mushrooms and garlic and cook until mushrooms are tender. Add 1T butter and pour in the tarragon and wine. Allow to bubble and simmer a few minutes.

Add the rest of the butter and all of the bread cubes. Stir well to coat the bread with vegetables and spices already cooking. Add the stock 2c at a time and mix until absorbed and then add the rielsing. When the stuffing is thoroughly moist remove from heat and fold in pecans.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


At this point in my life there is no place that feels so much like home to me as the South Toe Valley in Western, NC. The ridgeline of the Black Mountains gently curving like a warm embrace from a beloved relative. My whole spirit sings when I am there, as if I am a part of that place. I guess that could be becasue I developed so much of myself while living there, falling in love, getting married, conceiving a child, creating deep lasting friendships. As my life moves along on it's path I know I have influence, but yet I am also open to the natural flow as it comes to me. Celo will always be in my heart. I am thankful to have had the chance to know it deeply and share it with my son.

Here is a view of the ridgeline as seen from the home we stayed in over the Thanksgiving holiday. Again, thankful, it's folks like Ben and Cedar (along with others) who offered us their place so we could share Thanksgiving with our close friends. They have a magnificent view, a warm home, and lovely gardens.

Here is my comtemplative husband on the banks of the Toe River. A beautiful day, we went walking to Green Toe Ground Farm. I caught Jim as he looked out into the water, scanned the rocky mountainside across the water, and breathed in the crisp mountain air.

On a gnarled tree root Nicole and I share a refelctive moment. The truth as I've noticed it, is that the older I get the more difficult it is to create deep lasting friendships. I feel thankful to have that with her. She accepts me as I am and in turn I her. We've seen each other grow into strong women, get married, have children, and chase dreams.

Two pals walk together down the road laughing, singing, running after the puppy. I notice there is a freedom my boy shows when we're there in Celo, it's different than when we're elsewhere. Almost as if he too is infused with the magic I feel in that valley, I hope he always feels it.

We give thanks for the turkey who gave it's life so we could feast and feel full. Gaelan rubbed this one down with a butter and spice mixture and cooked it just right. It was the most delicious and moist turkey I have ever eaten. I made the stuffing fresh with mushrooms and pecans (recipe to be posted later), yum!

Oh the plentiful feast, before us on the table, our mouths water with anticipation on this one of the few days during the year eat with such ferocity. We savor the flavors of perfect turkey, fresh stuffing, squash gratin, mashed potatoes with parsnips, fresh cranberry sauce, stewed greens with a hint of apple, sweet potatoes topped with pecans, and mixed green salad. Having Thanksgiving with farmers is truly a reason to celebrate the harvest and give thanks to the land and the spirit for blessing us all with nature's bounty.
At the proverbial kids table, ours too enjoy this feast. The girls, whose hands contributed to the meal by working the land with their parents helped to bring forth this glorious meal. Ah, to be a grown up and finally appreciate how special the kid's table actually is.

And of course, to finish off the meal, we must have pie and pie we had a plenty. I made what I am considering now as a part of my Thanksgiving a chocolate pecan pie, Gaelan created for us two kinds of pumpkin pie: one traditional and one with a layer of chocolate spread over the crust which adds a devilishly decadent kick, and Pat made a wonderful apple pie with hints of cinnamon and spices coating every bit. We added fresh whipped cream and had a marvelous treat for our taste buds.

Ah, the joys of celebrating, feasting and fellowship.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Alena's Turkey Chili

With the colder weather beginning to set in I've been enjoying soups and stews and thick warm one pot meals. Here's a new one I came up with tonight working from a Veteto family favorite. I changed it a bit and so have taken liberty with a new name. Enjoy!

Alena’s Turkey Chili

(based loosely on Brian’s Chili given by Jeanne Veteto)

1# ground turkey
¼ c diced onion
¼ c diced red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic minced
1 can cooked kidney beans plus the juice
1 can cooked cannellini beans plus the juice
½ c – 1 can stewed crushed tomatoes plus the juice
½ c frozen sweet corn

2T chili powder
1tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper

6oz brown style beer
1T agave nectar

Heat saucepan to medium. Brown the turkey and then add a pinch of salt and pepper, stir. Add onion, garlic and pepper and cook until soft. Then add the beans, tomatoes, sweet corn, and spices, stir and cook on medium high for 30 minutes. Add beer and agave and cook as long as you want (at least another 30 minutes), the longer the better and stir occasionally.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Crescent View chapter three

Chapter Three: The stranger
As Gina screamed the stranger walking out from behind the painting stopped suddenly. He raised his hands above his head to show that he was unarmed. It was dark in the studio because Gina had not yet turned on the light but very suddenly a bright light began to shine and it seemed to be coming from the hands of the stranger. She blinked hard to make sure this was not a dream, it wasn’t. The man came closer and Gina was unable to move. She felt frozen to this very spot just inside the door and pulled almost magnetically to walk closer to the man.
Now that she had the chance to breathe and calm down a moment she wasn’t scared at all. She felt a sense of peace and a warm buzz swept over her entire body as if her blood pulsed with electricity.
As he approached, a voice so soft and clear and familiar reached out to her, “I see that you found my gift. I’ve been waiting for you to come home.”
She moved quickly now into his arms. Into the warm embrace she had missed these past years. The one she knew she would never feel again. Could it really be true, could he really be here?
“Max, is it really you?” she had to ask. She needed to break her silence to be sure she could trust herself to believe he was standing here. “How…when did you get here?” she asked in a whisper afraid he wouldn’t answer because maybe he wasn’t really there.
“I swam and then walked,” he said with a slight chuckle, “I only just arrived today.” With that he pulled her close and kissed her with such emotion she thought that she might faint on the spot. He was gentle, holding her closely kissing, now whispering in her ear about lost love and ocean voyages, then more kissing and all the while the white-blue glow emitting from him setting a surreal scene in her little studio.
Abruptly Gina pulled away pushing him in the opposite direction. It was too much. She felt too alive, too sensitive. Images were flashing in her brain of tumultuous seas and sinking ships, of love gone missing, of years of grieving, of best friends and crashing school dances, of winters alone on the beach waiting or wishing, of the agony of knowing that he was gone. How could he be here? He wasn’t supposed to be here. He was lost at sea. Who was this glowing man, grown and different, yet enough like Max to confuse her? Dolores always said he would come back one day.
“Don’t give up hope Gina, he’ll be back against all odds. I know it,” was one of the last things Dolores had said to her. That was over a year ago.
It was still too much, she dropped the shell, her head felt dizzy and the light…the light was so brilliant, too brilliant. She fell suddenly into his arms and he caught her.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Earthscouts and Alpacas

A few weeks ago our Earthscouts group went to visit Crooked Pine Hollow Alpaca Farm. The Farm is located in Winterville, GA and is run by Nancy and Ricky Miller.

They have a breeding herd, fleece animals, a rescue herd, and a few bordering aplacas.

Above is one of the breeding herd members pregnant
and expecting this fall.

These three on the right are in the rescue herd. They were emaciated when they came to Crooked Hollow but now seem to be getting better with the all of the love they are receiving.

Our Earthscouts went to Crooked Pine to learn about Economic Justice and to support a local business and member of our extended community.

We talked about how Nancy and Ricky earn a living by taking care of, raising, breeding and selling products from Aplaca fur, which is soft, warm and beautiful. we also used alpaca fleece to create felted squares that we will stitch our earned badges onto.
One fun fact we learned is that Aplacas are considered to be "green" animals becasue their poop doesn't smell and is extremely beneficial as a compost and soil additive.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

This recipe is my current favorite making it's presence felt at least once a day.


1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes
1T olive oil
1/8 t salt
1/8 ground pepper
1t oregano
1/2t garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350

Peel sweet potatoes and slice into 1/4inch rounds. Place in a bowl with remainng ingredients and coat well. Spread evely on a cookie sheet and bake until done, about 20 -25 minutes. For a crisper potato slice flip over after 10 minutes. Delicious and oh so satisfyingly sweet.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall hikes

Yesterday we went to the Botanical Garden here in Athens, it's one of our favorite places to hike here. It was a lovely cool fall day. The breeze was blowing and the trees were swaying. We decided to hit the white trail. The white trail is long and beautiful and winding and goes through many differnet types of forested areas crossing close to creekbeds, along the river and into the woods.

We enjoyed a role playing adventure for the whole family escaping an oncoming attack of soldiers who were hot on our trail and barely ducking into the woods with just enough time to escape the clutches of a vile red dragon flying at our heels and blowing it's fire behind us.
Along the way we talked about the plants around us, admired the trees growing tall, and shared praise for the beauty surrounding us.

At one point far in the woods we found a lot of patches of wild ginger growing. Always looking for teaching opportunities in our daily lives, J took the chance to show I about this amazing herbal. They gently dug one up to get a look at the root. we were able to see the places where flower buds had formed and we all got the chance to taste this very special member of the plant kingdom.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sausage Risotto

After a wonderful dinner with some good friends a few years ago, I realized that I didn't have much experience with arborio rice. For those of you not in the know, this is the kind of rice used to make risotto. My friends being full blooded Italians and lovers of Italian cuisine had fixed risotto for me over the years (including at their wedding) and every time I really enjoyed it. This one particular time however, I left their home thinking it was time for me to learn how to make this delicious dish.

I gave a call to them one evening and after a few pointers and with some suggestions about how to proceed came up with this recipe. It has since become a family favorite for a cold winter evening, since it is pretty hearty. I guess the colder weather that is now setting in has me thinking about the kinds of meals I like to eat that contribute to my insides feeling warm and fuzzy.

So here it is for you try if you should feel so inclined. Keep in mind this is not a low fat or heart healthy meal, it's simply delicious.

Sausage Risotto

Created Dec 2007

8oz fresh pork sausage (preferably local)
2 cloves garlic minced
½ -1c diced bell pepper (any color you want)
½ c diced onion
¼ c diced green onion
2T butter
1 ½ c arborio rice
4c stock (approximate, any kind you want veg, chicken, beef)
¾ c cream
½ c pecorino romano grated

variations: 2c sliced mushrooms added with the onions and peppers, omit the sausage and add another veggie or chopped pecans.

*Melt butter in a large skillet
*Add onions & green peppers and sautee until translucent. Add garlic and sautee a few more minutes.
*Add sausage and cook until browned, about 7 minutes. Add rice and stir until it is well coated.*Add stock 1c at a time allowing the rice to absorb each cup before adding the next. Cook until the rice is al dente (cooked through but still firm). Add cream and cheese, stir and serve

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall Apple Festival

2nd Annual Fall Apple Festival!

Host:FOLK (Furthering Our Local Knowledge)

Date:Saturday, October 17, 2009
Time:1:00pm - 8:00pm

Agrarian Connections Farm;
City/Town:Crawford, GA

FOLK is putting on our second annual Fall Apple Festival on Saturday, October 17th! It will be held at Agrarian Connections Farm (just outside Athens) from 1 til 8pm. There will be live music (lots of local musicians - our lineup will be made available soon), an art show/sale by local artists, an apple pie baking contest, local farmers and gardeners selling and swapping their wares, kids' arts and crafts, and dinner!here's our schedule:1-2pm: open jam session (bring an instrument!), introduction/dedication2-2:45pm: High Strung3-4pm: Marion H. Montgomery III4-5pm: Colporteur presentation: Kevin Welch, Apple pie competition, then begin serving dinner5-6pm: Hope For Agoldensummer6:15-8pm: conglomerations of local folk and bluegrass musiciansFor more information and directions, please visit our website ( you have any questions or if you're a local artist/farmer who would like to set up a table, (it's free, you just need to reserve a space with us), please email us at you would like to volunteer, please email Abby at

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fall is here

Back in Georgia, the fall is settling in. I've noticed the leaves starting to change and the cooler air has invaded. The family and I spent Sunday at Whippoorwhill Hollow Farms participating in the Atlanta Slow Food Field of Greens event. It was a great event to raise money for the farmers who were affected by the recent flooding. My boy had a blast playing with the sons of another vendor. They made themselves at home and spent the day between chasing chickens, bouncing on the bounce house, and just running around having a good ole time.

I was so thankful my good friend A- was persistent in encouraging me to go to the event and set up. She is always so supportive of my craft and willing to offer her help in whatever ways she can.

Driving home I could see the pink sky behind me.
My boy barely able to keep his eyes open.
The exhaustion of fitful sleep and an all day event creeping in.
Onward I drive, keeping a steady speed, drinking my fresh brewed herbal tea.
As I pull into the drive, night descending, rain drops gently splash on my face.
Relief washes over me with the thought of vegetable bean soup in the fridge.
I covet a warm shower, soft pajamas, a cozy bed.
A lazy smile breaks free, I know it's coming soon.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cornbread Recipe

This cornbread is delicious, light and fluffy and a family favorite. It came to me from my mother-in-law Jeanne Veteto.

1C cornmeal
1C sifted flour
1/8C sugar (optional)
4tsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt
1 egg
1C milk
1/4C shortening

preheat oven to 425 degrees

sift dry ingredients together. add shortening, milk and eggs and beat until smooth. pour in greased 8inch pan or size 6 skillet or will make a dozen muffins. bake 15-20 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Botany of Desire

A little review of my most recent intellectual read.

For those of you with an interest in plants and people and a curiousity is their relationship this book is one that will hold your attention. Author Michael Pollan takes four plants that have influenced people in differing ways and explores the way that the four main human desires have affected those plants over time. Apples:Sweetness, Tulips: Beauty, Marijuana:Intoxication, Potatoes:Power.

Each plant/desire is given a full chapter and I think he does a brilliant job showing the connection between each. Plus it is packed full of interesting historical facts.

I highly recommend it to all.

Also for those of you who like to have a visual, PBS will be airing a special next month called, "Botany of Desire" based on this book. I think the airing date is either the 18th or 28th.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Savory Grits

Here is an original recipe that has become one of our favorites for breakfast. It is based on an old family recipe but has been altered to make it Vegan. I'd love any feedback if you try it.

Savory Grits (V)


2c water
1 vegetable bouillon (Rapunzel brand, Garlic, Sea Salt and Herb)
½ c grits

¾ c Lisanatti brand almond cheese, flavor of your choice
1T Earth Balance spread
2T Follow Your Heart non-dairy cream cheese
½ t garlic powder
⅛t ground black pepper

Optional: add any other spices you love such as a hint of cayenne


In a 2qt saucepan bring the water and bouillon to a boil and stir to dissolve. Slowly add grits, stirring continuously for one minute. Turn heat down to medium low, cover, and cook for fifteen minutes stirring frequently.

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir vigorously to “melt” the cream cheese and the almond cheese. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saveur article

Last year Jim had the opportunity to do some work with a really interesting guy named Gary Nabhan. He's a well known ethnobotanist involed with Slow Food and the RAFT (Renewing America's Food Traditions) Project. The spent a few days talking with old timers in the Appalachians about apples. Here's an article from AGry that is currently appearing in Saveur magazine. Just thought I'd share it with ya'll.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday Morning Rice Pudding

At my house on Saturday we generally try to take the morning slow. Often times for breakfast I whip up an impromtu rice pudding from leftover rice which we usually have in the fridge. So here's my basic recipe, although not exact so you might have to experiment some to get it how you like it.


1 & 1/2c leftover rice
2 - 2 &1/2c edensoy edenblend
1/4t vanilla
1/2t cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
2 cardamon pods
pinch salt
1/4c raisins (optional)
1T agave nectar or other sweetener (optional)

General directions for about 1 1/2C leftover rice

Put leftover rice in a medium sized pot. Pour enough soymilk over the rice to cover it completely and then rise above it an additional inch or so so that the rice is thoroughly saturated. Add vanilla, spices, and raisins. Bring to a gentle boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until all of the soymilk is absorbed into the rice, stirring frequently, about 20-30 minutes. Then add the sweetener and enjoy.

Friday, September 18, 2009

chapter two: crescent view

here's the second chapter of the story i started last month, enjoy.

Chapter Two: Crescent View

I was sixteen the year my father finally left. I knew my folks were having problems because they weren’t exactly covert about it. My dad was often absent and when he was around his was often drunk. The fighting had gotten unbearable and I had taken to locking myself away in my bedroom of our small apartment . My dad would come and go at all hours stumbling and yelling and sometimes passing out before he made it to the couch or the bed. It came to light one evening that he had been seeing someone new and had fallen in love with this mystery woman. After all these years he was tired of pretending there was any hope for them and he wanted to leave. He gave mom all of the old stand-by lines you might expect to hear in a situation like this; he didn’t love her anymore, she was too controlling, she expected too much from him, life didn’t turn out the way he had planned, they had been too young, etc…

Some of it was a little true I guess. They had been young when they got married. Still in high school actually and out of duty because my mom was pregnant. I guess at that time they were full of that powerful teenage love that makes one unable to breathe and able to believe that everything is possible. Even in a situation that didn’t seem likely to succeed, one where they were both way too young and not really ready for a baby. She did have high expectations of him but they were not unreasonable when you have a family to care for. Merely that he ought to have a job and hold it for more than a month, that he come home to her and his daughter every night and not be drunk, that he spend quality time with their growing daughter, and that he be faithful. I guess he didn’t have that high of expectation for himself. After he spilled the beans about the affair and wanting out, my mom did what any strong woman and mother might and went to see a lawyer. We didn’t have much and he didn’t want anything but Mom was cautious and she wanted every part of the divorce documented. Soon it was done.

When the divorce was final, my Mom cried hard. She had always loved him and still carried hope they could work it out. I think she knew realistically that was not a possibility but she didn’t want to believe it. She was out of sorts for a few weeks just trying to figure out how she and I could make it in the world. She kept up good public appearances with her job and the parents of my friends but she couldn’t keep from me the way this event tore her apart.

“Oh Gina, I am so sorry you have to see me like this,” she would say, “I promise it will get better honey.”

“Don’t worry mom, I’m here for you,” I would tell her as I cleaned up the dishes or did the laundry. “I know we’ll get through this. You’ll feel better soon.”

It took a while but eventually she picked herself up and brushed off her pain and went about making our lives as good as she could.

Unfortunately for me, my dad didn’t really seem to want to have anything to do with me. Of course I was sad about losing him, there were times when he and I had a lot of fun together for instance he was great on birthdays and he liked to fish in the canals. But as far as my daily life, he wasn’t ever a very big part of it, at least that I could remember. He had never been much of a dad and so I couldn’t imagine why he would change now. When you’re sixteen you can easily be cynical and I just saw him as an egotistical asshole who ruined my Mom’s life.

Within half a year my Mom decided that the best thing she could for us was to move. She couldn’t see going back home to Point Salisbury where she grew up or going to a completely new place. The place she saw us going to start over was to the beach resort town of Crescent View. It was a small town on the gulf coast of Florida. We had gone there over the years for vacations with her father, my Grand, as I called him. He had a condo there and he had offered her a room many times over the years. He had bought it in the seventies and their family had gone to the beach for vacation every summer, it had been a good real estate investment for him as there were always folks looking for a short term rental near the beach. A few years ago after my grandmother passed away, Grand sold his old house in Point Salisbury and moved to Crescent View fulltime. He loved living on the beach and he offered my mom and I place to call home until we could settle in. So after the school year ended, and I had the chance to celebrate my 17th birthday with my good friends, we packed up the apartment in the city, said goodbye to the only life I had known and moved to the small beach town of Crescent View. Temporarily we would live in Grand’s condo, but only until Mom found a place for us that would be ours alone. In truth I was looking forward to summer in Crescent View, I loved summer at the beach.

When we got to Crescent View, Grand was there to meet us at the condo. His sly smile always made me laugh and he hugged me so tight. I was glad to see him and I was glad for my mom that he was here for us. I knew it was hard for her to accept his help, but I was glad that she did, she needed someone beside me to hug her and tell her how much she was loved. Grand was a tall man in his late sixties. He had a full head of silver white hair that sat atop his sun bronzed sculpted face. He had always taken good care of himself and it seemed to me that living on the beach almost made him younger than he was a few years ago. He had a slim frame and I was surprised that you could see slight muscle tone in a man of his age. He had a jovial countenance and his blue eyes sparkled in the sun just like the ocean he loved so much.

We made ourselves comfortable in Grand’s guest room. The condo was part of one of the smaller complexes. His duplex wasn’t directly on the beach but it was close enough that you could look out the windows and see the water. It wasn’t very big just a two bedroom with living room and kitchen but it seemed large enough. He also had a Bahama room which was sort of like a big screened in patio but also kind of like another room. It had a futon and small table with chairs. I guessed by the indentations in the futon that he liked to sit out here often. I was sure I would join him.

After we settled in he called in the doorbell rang and a young man carrying a take box was waiting with what I presumed to be our dinner. Grand had ordered a take-in dinner from his favorite Italian restaurant to celebrate our arrival. It was a delicious meal. Grand didn’t ask a lot of questions, we talked to him on a regular basis. It was easy being here, at least this first night just felt like it always did when we arrived for vacation.

After dinner I realized how exhausted I was. “May I please be excused to get ready for bed, I’m pooped?” I asked.

“Sure darling, we’ll see you in the morning,” mom replied.

I hugged Mom and Grand goodnight and retired to the room. I could hear them talking and catching up and mom was even laughing. I knew things were going to be good here. I took out my journal and wrote a little bit about the adventure of the move.

June 16th, 2002,
Today has been a long day. Although not quite as long as the past six months. I’m glad that we finally made it here to Crescent View. It wasn’t a long drive, it just seemed to take forever to get here. Grand’s place is really nice and the ocean is so amazing. This afternoon as we drove in the sun was shining down so brightly on the water. It looked as if a million tiny jewels were floating on the surface just sparkling as bright as possible. I think this summer will be fun and I am glad that I have a few months to get my bearings and feel comfortable here before school starts. Tomorrow I’m hoping to make it down to the beach. I don’t see why that would be a problem considering how close it is. I do so love the ocean.

I tucked my journal away and thought about how much I truly did love the ocean. I could smell it in the air even with all of the windows closed and the AC running. I could taste the salt on my lips even though I wasn’t near the water. I imagined that I could feel the water on my skin with waves splashing over my face. I must have fallen into a deep and peaceful sleep almost immediately because in the morning I felt ready to conquer the world.

“What do you two have planned for today?” Grand asked handing me a glass of fresh squeezed juice as I walked over to the breakfast bar. I noticed that he had set out a box of cereal and the milk too.

“I’m not sure what’s on mom’s list for today,” I replied, imagining that he probably knew more than I did given how quickly I’d gone off to bed. I got a bowl and poured myself some cereal and milk. “What are you going to do today Grand?” I inquired of him. I knew he wasn’t one of those old guys that just sat around. He held a part time job at the senior center and he spent a lot of his time volunteering around the town.

“Well, I have a pretty busy day today down at the senior center so I won’t be able to walk you around,” he said hesitantly, “but I’ve made dinner reservations at my favorite burger joint for tonight. So don’t you go filling up on junk foods.” He smiled and I laughed because I knew his favorite burger joint was a little shack on the edge of the beach with no tables and definitely no reservations.

“Make yourself at home my sweet Gina, I am pleased to have you here. I hope you will love Crescent View as much as I do. It’s good that you arrived in Summer and have a few months to enjoy it before school starts. Tell your mom there’s juice in the fridge and breakfast in the oven. See you later alligator,” he said as he grabbed his messenger bag and bike helmet and walked slowly towards the door.

“After while crocodile,” I replied as had been our custom. I stared out the living room window and watched as the waves crashed into the rocks. I thought about how much energy Grand had and how nice it would be to live near him. After a while my mom woke up, ate breakfast, got dressed and looked expectantly at me. I was still sitting on the couch in my pajamas looking out the window.

“Do you want something mom?” I asked, knowing she wanted me to follow her example and get dressed as well.

“Well Gina, I thought we might go walk around town and get a sense for our new home. You never know what opportunities are waiting for you,” was her optimistic reply.

I groaned at her perky smile and plodded to our room to dress. I threw on my bathing suit planning ahead and over that a deep green sundress. I ran a large tooth comb through my knotty curls and pulled it all up into a loose bun. Once I was ready we headed out of the condo and took in the new landscape. Right away I noticed that you could see the beach from just about everywhere. Since Crescent View was shaped like a small peninsula it was surrounded almost entirely by the ocean. All of the water made this place seem extra special. We spent the day just sort of going here and there, walking along the boardwalk, in and out of little shops, and getting the lay of the land. Of course I insisted we take a short swim and mom sat on the sand while I splashed around. The streets were lined with as many cars as could fit and the beach was full of people from all over. I noticed there were many groups of teens who were also enjoying the sun and surf not to mention all of the families spread out along the coastline. I knew that since it was summer there were a lot more folks here than there would be once the school year started. A part of me felt strangely social like maybe I should go meet some new people but then another strong feeling crept in. I didn’t want to meet any of these transient people invading what was now my beach and I felt annoyed that I would have to share this place with all of these visitors. I realized that I was looking forward to the time when they would all be gone. I turned my gaze away from the groups and plunged deep into the cool water enjoying the slight sting of the salt in my eyes. I emerged with a splash smiling brightly at my mom, who in turn laughed quietly at me.

When I was done cleansing the big city away I sat with my mom on the beach for a bit talking. She told me a few stories about her childhood memories on the beach here and I could tell by her expressions how much she loved it too.

“Gina, I sorry the circumstances that brought this about aren’t great, but I am really glad you will get to know this place the way I do,” she told me while she gently combed the salty knots out of my tangled mass of curls.

“It’s ok, Mom. I can tell that I’m going to love this place,” I replied softly.

“I know you will dear.” she replied. Then as an afterthought she added, “This beach is very special, just like you.”

It was late afternoon when we were finally worn out from exploring and we turned down the last block heading back to Grand’s condo. We had basically made a large circle around the town as there wasn’t that much too it. We stopped to admire the garden next to us because the blooms were so bright and lively. Then we heard someone.

“Hello there ladies,” said the woman in the garden. She looked a little odd with her extra wide brimmed sun hat and paint splattered overalls down on her knees tending to the cana lillies. She had a long silver braid that hung over her shoulder down to her waist and steel blue-grey eyes that looked directly at us. She showered us with a sincere smile that was bright and friendly.

“Oh hello,” replied my mother.

“You must be new to Crescent View, I haven’t seen you around.” She said in a knowing voice, continuing the conversation.

“Well,” hesitated mom, “actually yes. We just arrived yesterday. My name is Mary Riley and this is my daughter Gina.”

“It’s very nice to meet you both, my name is Dolores. Dolores Lockheart, ” The lady had replied increasing the size of her grin and I thought I saw a slight twinkle in her eyes. “Young lady,” she addressed me directly, “I can tell just from looking at you that you’re going places in the world. They might not be exactly the places you think, but it’s gonna happen for you. “

“Uh, thanks, I guess,” I replied wondering if this lady had been spending too much time in her flower garden with the bright, hot sun.

Dolores, who seemed harmless enough, invited us to come in for a nice cold glass of tea and some fresh chilled lemon meringue pie. While we snacked on the treats, she filled us in with all the workings of Crescent View and told mom who to check in with about rentals.

“You’ll want to be talking with Sissy Weakly about a rental. She seems to have the best handle on all of the available properties,” suggested Dolores. Then she added, “And you can trust her not to cheat you unlike some of the others around here.”

While Mary asked Dolores all manner of questions about the town, I looked around the living room of the cabana. I noticed that the sand colored carpet was well worn. The furniture was an eclectic gathering of seemingly antique and vintage items. There was so much art work her home was like a museum with sculptures, pottery, paintings, glass pieces and some things that just looked like jumbles of items. There were dozens of pictures hanging on the painted walls and in some places it was hard to tell the frames apart from the wall. Somehow all of it seemed to work though. There was so much but it wasn’t too much, it was just right.

“I thought to myself, “Quirky and yet somehow put together well, just like Dolores seems to be.”
“Where are you staying dears?” asked Dolores. Although something in her voice made me think she might already know the answer.

“Right now we’re staying with my father, Roger Tucker,” mom replied.

“Well, are you now?” she nodded. “That Roger Tucker is quite the charmer let me tell you,” Dolores said. It seemed to me as if she was trying to conceal a blush.

“Oh do you know my Grand?” I asked her with suspicion in my voice. Of course she did, he was a good looking older man and this was a small town.

“Let’s just say that he and I are good friends,” she hesitated a moment and then added, “From the senior center where I teach art classes. I am quite miffed that he never mentioned his daughter and granddaughter were coming to stay with him. He usually keeps me up to date about the happenings in his life. Oh well, lucky for me I saw you on the street.”

“Gina,” she said looking me eye to eye,” I just know we’re going to be fast friends. You must come back as soon as you can and we’ll get started right away on your water color lessons.”

“Umm, yeah, I’ll see,” I replied wondering how she could have possibly known I was interested in bettering my watercolor skills. “How did you know…”

“Oh my, look at the time sweetheart. We better be getting back to Grand, he’ll be waiting for us,” my mom said cutting me off. “It was kind of you to ask us in Mrs.Lockheart…”

“Ms.Lockheart,” Dolores corrected, “but please, call me Dolores, and call as often as you like. Gina, I’ll be seeing you soon.”

My mom rushed me out the door after that and we were back at Grand’s in a flash. He was waiting for us outside the building with his beach blanket in hand ready to hit up his favorite burger joint.

Monday, September 14, 2009

chapter one: now

this came out of my creative flow before the move back to GA...i don't know if ai am really going anywhere with it, but i thought i'd share. i would love any feedback you might want to give.

Chapter One:
Gina walked quietly along the shoreline. The cool waves lapped against her feet as she carefully tread the line between being in the ocean and walking along the beach. Each step left a small impression for the waves to wash away. She mused about the impermanence of most things as she watched her previous footstep disappear and sink back into the sand.

The sky was becoming overcast with the first hint of dark gray. She looked out over the vast water and could see the thunderheads gathering in a mighty force.

“It must be near 4 o’clock,” she thought to herself knowing that you could set your watch by the summer rains, “there’s never enough time to just be.”
It was just about time to bring her leisurely walk to an end. She wasn’t particularly looking forward to going to work tonight. Just another night serving barely legal kids overpriced drinks as they tried their best to top each other in acts of stupidity. It was summer in Crescent View after all.

For a while now, she had tended bar at the local night club. It was the only actual night club in Crescent View. The club differentiated itself from a few of the local bars by offering a lot of live music, having a large dance area, and featuring a second music venue on the back patio. The name of the club had changed a dozen times or so, and the crowd shifted every so often as the venue went from alternative rock, to hip hop club, to preppie bar and back again. But each time the theme of the club changed, the new owner was sure to feature a varying kind of music once a week, sometimes more. This ensured the club would always have a steady clientele, holding the interest of those vacationers who felt like walking a few blocks instead of driving to the larger city 30 miles away. Given the amount of alcohol consumed in the club, walking was by far the best option.

The bar-tending gig had been good to her though. Over the years she’d been lucky enough to catch some really great live shows, befriend traveling musicians from all over the world, and focus on her art. Her regulars always tipped well and she made a pretty decent living despite the late night hours. The other perk was that in the winter months, the club had limited hours and she could focus on the winter art show circuit. She loved traveling around the country for a few months and camping out in her van. Well, this year’s show circuit was still a ways off.
It was mid-summer now and there were always throngs of visitors to the beach resort town of Crescent View. The night club, no matter it’s name and music was always busy in the summer. Tonight would be a wild one, it always was when the moon was full. She could never place exactly what it would be this time, but folks were always hyped up when the moon was full. It was as if they were on high alert and allowed their own energy to extend from themselves. More often than not, this extra ramped up energy lead to major brawls on the dance floor as one too-drunk guy inevitably hit on someone else’s girl. The fighting generally happened about 2 in the morning when everyone was high on life, music, dancing, drinks and whatever they might have snuck into the club or taken before they got there. The bouncers, a few well muscled fellows, would let it go a minute or two and give the involved parties a chance to clear it up without interference, but if that didn’t happen pretty quick, all those involved would find themselves being escorted out. And not out to the patio, but out onto the curb, as in “Seeya.”
Full moon at the bar always promised to be interesting. Gina preferred to work the patio bar on the full moon, at least this way she could gaze overhead at the giant glowing orb above and allow her imagination to run when she wasn’t busy serving drinks or brushing off the most recent pick-up attempt. There was a new musician playing his debut on the patio tonight and she was looking forward to that. Gina had heard the owner playing the demo CD last week and it sounded as if this guy might even have talent.

“Just a quick splash to find my favorite reality and then home to my little cabana,” she told herself as she slipped out of her well worn sundress and dashed into the rolling waves.

The coolness was refreshing and she allowed herself to float for a minute, weightless, surrounded by the massive water. Using her hands and some sand she scrubbed her body with the salt water, finally she plunged her head deep into the ocean and used her fingers to massage the water into her scalp. This ocean cleanse was a daily ritual Gina hated to go without. She wouldn’t shower before work. She preferred, whenever possible, to go to work with the salt of the sea stuck to her skin and in her hair. Somehow it made her feel better about life to breath in her salty smell when the bar really starting happening. The slight salty stick on her skin helped her feel more at ease with the surroundings of the bar. There was just something about knowing she had visited the ocean that day. Gina felt deeply connected to the ocean, she always had.
When she was done with her ritual salt sea bath, she swam back toward the shore to the point where her hands could touch the sandy bottom. Then as she used to do when she was a kid “walked” herself on her hands to as shallow of a spot as she could reach without actually dragging her body out the water. Her sundress and sandals awaited her patiently, untouched and clouded over by the coming storm.

“I better get a move on,” Gina mused to herself, “This one will be here very shortly.” As Gina walked to her belongings she noticed a medium sized conch shell beside her dress.

“Hmm, I don’t remember that being here before,” she thought.

She crouched down and picked up the shell. It was a really lovely specimen with small spines all along the outside twirling in, getting smaller and smaller in sequence. The inside of the conch shell was so smooth, a light peachy pink that she knew would shine brightly in the sun.

“This will be a beautiful addition to my collection. I can’t believe I didn’t see it before,” she thought figuring that she was just too distracted to have seen it before.

Gina was an avid collector of all items washed ashore from the ocean. Her studio was full of sea glass, shells, dried seaweed, and other oddities she had collected walking along the beach for years. This shell was a true prize though. She lingered just a moment longer to catch the breathtaking view of a late afternoon summer thunderstorm coming in from over the ocean. It was one of her favorite tricks of nature. To see how the clouds swirled closer to each other attracted by some unseen force, then as they came together the clouds rose like smoke billowing from a chimney, darkened and headed straight for shore.

The clouds burst overhead and the first few raindrops splashed on her already wet hair as she reached the French doors of the cabana. Her perfect cabana. Not her Mother’s house, Grandfather’s condo, or boyfriend’s apartment this time. Finally she had saved enough to buy a little place of her own, and it didn’t help that Dolores the previous owner only asked for a price she knew Gina could afford. She’d been living there for about a year now and it was everything she hoped it would be. The property was nestled near a banyan grove and she could walk through a little sandy trail straight to the beach. The little sky blue hideaway was perfect. The cabana was smallish, but comfortable with two bedrooms, one full bathroom with spacious tub, a dining room /living combination and a nice working kitchen. Each room had large picture windows showcasing the amazing ocean view. The French doors in the living room opened onto a small tiled patio with sitting area, lily pond, flower gardens, raised vegetable garden beds, tons of foliage for privacy and an outdoor kitchen. She had her own little oasis hidden away right there in Crescent View. Across the patio was her favorite part of the cabana. Peeking out from behind Saw Palmettos, banana trees, and flowering hibiscus shrubs was a small shed that had been converted into an art studio. It was her very own place to go and lose herself in imagination, creation and play.

The woman from whom she had bought the house, Dolores, had used the small art studio for decades and it had so much personality and life within it. Gina saw it as the perfect place to work on her craft and perfect her techniques. That’s what Dolores, an avid gardener, water color artist, talented herbalist, and her mentor in many things saw it as too. She had made that small studio space a sanctuary devoted wholly to processing her inner being into tactile pieces of art work. Now Gina did the same. For some reason she often found herself following in Dolores footsteps.

Gina headed out to the studio with the shell inspired by the perfection of nature to start something new in the few hours before she had to get to work. As she opened the door and stepped inside, Gina let out a shriek as the stranger emerged from behind her largest painting…

Monday, September 7, 2009

The only constant...

Well, greetings to all from Athens, GA. The past week has been a very busy one that included lots of packing, lots of driving and now lots of unpacking. I've often heard that the only constant in life is change and I guess I would have to agree wholeheartedly with that. Three moves in one year to three different states is quite a lot of change.

Now the actual physical moving doesn't even begin to touch the changes occurring internally all the dang time. What is it about the early thirties?

Anyway, I'm working on resettling and I feel good about being back here. Athens is a great town. There's good music, good farmer's markets and good friends.

new recipes, writings and other postings coming soon.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Garden Adventure

I thought I would share this story based on a wonderful adventure that Ian and I had at the nearby Garvan woodland gardens. He and I had a grand time spinning this tale as we walked along. Enjoy!

A Garden Adventure

One bright morning Queen Avramina and Prince Ianthayn went wandering through the wild gardens. Usually King Jamesthayn joined them but on this morning he was otherwise engaged. So the two of them mother and son, grabbed water skins and dried fruit bars, fastened summer cloaks around their shoulders and headed off down the forested trail leading away from the castle wall.

It was pleasant day with sun shining and a light breeze blowing past. The leaves overhead danced and the surface of the secluded pond rippled slightly. The multi-colored coy who lived in the pond swam in concentric circles and then fanned out into streamline patterns following the largest bright golden one of the bunch. The large golden coy was the king of the fishes and he was named Longfin Twofin. Ianthayn had come often to the pond to call on King Longfin. He knew many of the old stories about the forest and was always willing to share the news from abroad. He was well versed in the plant lore and the history of the wild gardens.

When he saw the queen and Prince approaching the pond, King Longfin splashed loudly to get their attention. Bubbling up from the water he called out to the prince, “Quick Prince Ianthayn your help is needed in the gardens today. Are you available for a quest?”

Prince Ianthayn looked at his mother who nodded gently and then replied, “My friend King Longfin, please tell me what is this task you have for me? If I can help one of my people surely I will.”

King Longfin responded, “A little child in Brick Hill was out in the green today. She was supposed to be gathering littlesprite, a helpful herb, for her mother. However she did not pay attention when it was shown to her. By accident she harvested the very poisonous lurkweed and ate it thinking it was the tasty plant she was supposed to have found. She is now very sick with a black fever and cannot get well without the antidote. It would show great courage and caring if you should venture out in the rock plateau and find the plant called Trifoli, it is the only antidote.”

“Mother and I were just out on a walk and we would both be glad to hunt down this magical plant to help this child,” Ianthayn replied.

“Mother, the rock plateau is near Draco’s cave. I shall call to him and let him know we will be heading his way,” Ianthayn said to the queen.

Queen Avramina looked at her son with a deep smile. She was proud that he cared so deeply for their people and was willing to go on great adventures to help them. “Ianthayn, we must get moving before it gets much later in the day. I heard that Leesees the dark has been spotted in some parts of the garden. We will want to return before mid afternoon.”

With that the two of them bowed low to King Longfin, after all he was much older than either of them and deserved the respect of a king. Then they turned towards the darker fork in the trail and began the journey towards the rock plateau.

As they walked they sang songs of healing and plant lore. Queen Avramina pointed out plants that had recently begun blooming to make sure her son knew them and Prince Ianthayn was quick to point out new mushrooms that had sprouted since the recent rains. In this way they passed the time until they reached the dark path into the thick growth of forest that would bring them the quickest to the rock plateau. Just as they stepped out of the sunlight a terrifying shriek split the sky above them. They looked up and could see the large shadow circling above the trees. The large gusts of wind produced by the giant flapping wings caused the mother and son to huddle together closely.

“Oh no, Leesees is near!” gasped the queen.

“Don’t worry mother, I will call on Draco to help us if he can.” replied Ianthayn kneeling down and touching his hand to his temple to silently call out to his dragon friend.

“Draco is on his way although the best he can promise is to scare Leesees off temporarily,” he told her in hushed voice.

In a moment they could hear the jolly laughing roar of the trustworthy Draco the dragon beating above the treeline. Now was the time for them to make a run through the dark trail as they would be safer once they were back on the main trail.

Leesees was an old mean dragon that had plagued the wild gardens and it peoples on and off for hundreds of years. He was big and black with large yellow glowing eyes. He was swift of wing and had a voice like honey. He was ever the trickster luring wandering minstrels and other travelers from the path only for them to never be heard from again. The Vetetorians had made several attempts to try and befriend Leesees but he was not much for compromise. Now and then he returned for his rampage and they were glad that Draco the Kind had come to live near them. He was a brilliant bright blue dragon with silver eyes that shone like diamonds. He was soft spoken and loved to play with the children of the kingdom. He was a good ally and at least Leesees would disappear when Draco was in flight above the kingdom, as he was now.

The Queen and the Prince arrived safely back into the sunlit path that would lead them to the rock plateau. Ianthayn waved to Draco in thanks and Draco, ever kind, offered them a ride to the plateau. They graciously accepted and were at Draco’s cave in no time. Draco had found a lovely empty cave on the plateau and he decided to make it his home. Ianthayn often visited with him there and the two of them would fly above the kingdom checking in on all of the little hamlets that were part of Vetetoria.

“Thank you so very much Draco,” the Queen said as she curtseyed.”

“Yes Draco, you are a wonderful friend to have in the hills,” beamed Ianthayn. “Are you familiar with where the trifoli plant grows here on the plateau?”

“Yes,” said Draco thoughtfully as if trying to remember where he saw it last, “I believe there is some in bloom above the waterfall. It should be easy enough for you to reach.”

Ianthayn quickly headed up the stone stairs deeply cut into the rocks at the back of Draco’s cave. There was a secret way in and out that Draco had shown him and he knew that the hidden stairs came out directly above the waterfall. As he climbed out of the hidden opening, his ears were bombarded by a loud hissing sound and directly in front of him was the dreaded spiny river monster, Ataatooroo.

“Not you again!” shouted Ianthayn as Ataatooroo pounced swiftly at him.

Ianthayn was thrown to the ground with the monster on top of him. He just needed a moment to get right and grab his sword from the sheath.

“Quick, now!” he thought to himself as he simultaneously smashed Ataatooroo on the nose with a loose rock and kicked both of his legs with all his might.

The monster, not expecting the two moves, was launched backward and Ianthayn had just enough time to get up and grab his sword before Ataatooroo shook off the attack and was back on the offensive. Ianthanyn slashed purposefully at the spiney monster and cut through the slick skin his side. Ataatooroo was not pleased by this and hissed spitting an acrid liquid at the prince. Ianthayn quickly dodged the nasty ooze and brought his blade down on the monster’s head. With a final hiss followed by a putrid smelling gurgle Ataaatooroo slumped forward and expired.

“Ianthayn!” his mother was calling, “Are you all right? What is going on up there?”

“Coming mother,” replied the prince smiling as he bent nearby and harvested the trifoli in full bloom.

He climbed back down the hidden stairway and was walking into the sun once again when he felt the sting in his arm.

“Ow!” he exclaimed grabbing his arm.

“Are you hurt friend?” asked Draco. “What took you so long up there?”

“I had to fight Ataatooroo. He ambushed me as I climbed out of the cave. I think some of his venom hit my arm,” at that moment Ianthayn went faint and his mother caught him and gently lay him on the small grassy patch.

“Oh Draco,” said Queen Avramina concerned, “ I’ve never had to heal someone from spiney river monster venom before. Do you know what we need to do?”

“Don’t worry your highness,” whispered Draco in a soothing voice, “The venom of the spiney river monster is not deadly. We simple need to wash the wound well with clean water and dress it with a linen bandage so that it can heal.”

“Oh thank heavens for small miracles,” sighed the Queen as she set about caring for the wound.

Shortly thereafter Ianthayn awoke with a start. “Mother we must get back to Brick Hill and help the child.”

Queen Avramina beamed brightly at her son. Once again his first thought was of another and how he could help them. One day he would make a great king. He was so kind and compassionate and yet he was brave and adventurous. She was eager to go also, better to get moving than be in the woods at dusk with the possibility of Leesees lurking nearby.

“Well, I think I better help you as best I can,” offered Draco lowering himself so the pair could climb once again onto his brilliant back. He flew them as close as possible to Brick Hill.

“Ianthayn,” said Draco in a stern voice, “I do hope you will be more careful the next time you visit me. I can’t have stories of you getting attacked by river monsters floating about the kingdom.” Then he laughed a jolly laugh, “Please do come see me soon.”

Then he nuzzled gently into Ianthayn and the boy hugged him promising, “I will come soon and we’ll scour the kingdom looking for the juiciest fruit trees.”

“Thank you again Draco. King Jamesthayn and I are so pleased you have to come to live near us. Our son is so very fond of you and we think of you as a friend,” said Queen Avramina.

The Queen and the Prince waved goodbye to their dragon friend and walked up to Brick Hill. They delivered the trifoli to the family of the sick child. They were very thankful and offered a tasty pastry to nibble on as thanks. The girl recovered quickly and learned a valuable lesson about plant harvesting. She vowed to her mother that she would pay better attention in herbs class as to not make a worse mistake in the future.

Queen Avramina took her son by the hand and they walked quietly back up the path to the castle. The sky was beginning to darken a little as it was nearing dusk. They could see the glow of the setting sun reflecting in the distance on the rock plateau and they could hear the coy splashing in the pond. The smiled at each other glad to have good friends and good family. They reached the castle without another incident and were greeted by the King who was awaiting them in the tame garden. Over supper Ianthanyn shared the story of the day’s adventure and at bedtime he kissed his parents goodnight went off to sleep.

Tomorrow there would be a new adventure waiting for them in the wild garden.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Alena's Artichoke Dip

I created this artichoke dip recipe about ten years ago when we were heavily into Macrobiotic eating. It has become a favorite of ours and I hope you'll like it. There is no dairy, wheat or corn and it is vegan.

16oz artichoke hearts drained and chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1 & 1/4c Veganaise
3/4c brown rice Mochi, grated (found at health food stores or sometime Asian markets)
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 T chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
3T nutritional yeast (optional)

Preheat oven to 350

Mix all ingredients well. This can be done in a food processor if you prefer instead of chopping the artichoke hearts. Place mixture into a medium casserole dish and bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove cover, stir and cook 15 minutes more.

This dish is flavorful and creamy and is "cheesy" enough to convince the most suspecting eaters.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sad News

I just wanted to take a minute and say farewell to an old friend. I just found out that an old friend of mine and JIm's passed away today. Frank Cook was really fascinating and caring person and an amazing ethnobotanist. He traveled the world trying to gain as much planty knowledge as possible and sharing everything he learned with others. He was always willing to give of his time and to to share a kind word, smile or magical potion with those who needed it most. Although I never knew Frank extrememly well, I have known him for over a decade and he was someone I always looked forward to seeing at least once a year. I know that both Jim and I will miss him and so will the many many people whose lives he touched. Truly, I think that the plant kingdom of this planet will miss Frank too, he was a true champion for them. My thoughts go out to his family and friends and I share the sadness that I know many others are experiencing as they find out this news. May we all be glad we had the chance to know him. Let this serve as a reminder to all of us to live our lives to fullest each and everyday because you never know if it migt be the end of this journey. Blessings to all those i love.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Watermelon Margarita

Oh so delicious and refreshing on a hot summer afternoon.

First scroll down to the bottm of this blog and get the recipe for watermelon granita and make it, as you will need some for this recipe. About 2/3C -1C per maragrita actually.

Sour Mix: makes 24oz, serves 6-8

in a large bowl or pitcher mix together

1 1/2c spring water
1/2c lemon juice
1/2c lime juice
1/2c agave nectar

then add

1 1/2c or 12 oz tequila
3/4c or 6oz triple sec
to make the margarita mixture

Fill each glass with watermelon granita and pour the margarita mixture over. Relax and enjoy!

For a single serving make the sour mix and keep in in the refrigerator. Then for each glass add 4oz sour mix, 2oz tequila and 1oz triple sec.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mooless Chocolate Pie

Here is a delicious recipe adapted from my friend Amy. She came over this weekend with her fmaily and we had such a blast. Of course the lake fun was topped off by this awesome and super easy dessert. Enjoy!

2c Chocolate chips (use grain sweetened if you want)
1/2c Soymilk
1t Vanilla extract
16oz Silken tofu
1T Agave nectar

Pre-made pie crust, either bought or made ahead of time.

1. Melt chocolate chips in soymilk and then stir in vanilla.
2. Combine tofu, chocolate mixture and agave nectar in a blender until smooth.
3. Pour into pie crust and chill at least 2 hours.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Food as Art

Friday night I helped with a great event here in Hot Springs. The Spa City Local Foods Market in conjuction with the Art Church hosted a combined evening of fine finger foods and fine art. This event was held during the 20th anniversary of the Hot Springs Gallery Walk.

The Food as Art Tasting was used as a way to showcase fresh, locally grown and raised produce and meats. Spearheaded by Brittany Lindon, we provided a delectable feast that tickled the taste buds of all who tried. Our finger foods menu consisted of Chipotle Sirloin on Gorgonzola Crostini, Peppered Steak with Garlic Crostini and Horseradish Cream, Lemon Verbena Lamb and Pok meatballs, Panko Crusted eggplant with Herbed Goat Cheese and Pomegranate Molasses, Crudite, and Coconut Shiso Flan.

The ingredients were provided by Arkansas Natural Produce, Arkansas Natural Meats, Petit Jean Natural Meats, Backyard Girl, Beadtanical Betty and a few others (sorry I can't remember all the names).

The Art Church provided the space for the event as well as live music and a variety of artists work to bring in folks on the Gallery Walk.

We all had a great time and so did the folks who came by. Thanks for supporting the Spa City Local Foods Market and the Art Church.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sunrise on the beach

Just wanted to share a writing exercise here allwoing my thoughts to wander to memories and try to describe them. I plan on sharing other writings, stories, poetry, memories and works of fiction. I hope you enjoy.

"I walked quietly along the shoreline listening to the sound of the waves lapping against retreating sand. I could hear the seagulls from above as they prepared to land a little further up the beach. The water gently washed over my toes as my feet sank and I could feel the grit left behind. I reached my hands into the cool morning water that had not yet been heated by the sun which was only just rising over the the horizon. I could tell the sun would be strong today, not a cloud in the sky, at least not yet. It was still early. The rain wouldn’t come until later. I looked out into the vast ocean spread before me and could see the large tankers and cargo carriers awaiting their turn to enter the port. Port Everglades that is.

As I contemplated the strangeness of working third shift at Primanti Brothers, I was glad the morning had come and I was done. Even though I had come in as a customer before during the late night/early morning hours, I didn’t realize how many people liked to eat pizza at 2 in the morning. It had been fun and strange to serve them hot NY style slices made fresh and dripping with the grease of really delicious mozzarella. The smell clung to me, and the grease. I had a ride coming to get me but not for a while still and so I had some time to just enjoy the solitude and quiet of early morning on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Slowly I spread a towel out before me and stood gazing into the never ending water stretched out before me. I breathed deeply a few times. I reflected briefly on how much I loved the true nature of this place. The sun, the sand, the sound of the waves, the sea birds, the breeze, the salty smell were a part of me. I began a sun salutation and went into an hour long series of yoga poses I had learned in college. I meditated on the towel allowing it to form to the changing shape of the dry sand below me. When I was done I walked to the water and plunged in to the small waves allowing the salty sea to take me in her arms. I felt refreshed and awake and alive and I let my floating body drift with the current back to the shore. I was cleansed. The pizza smell and grease officially removed from my body, my hair and my mind. I knew the day would be a good one.

That was the only time I worked third shift. In fact, I had given my notice and was preparing to leave this place and never look back. Even though I felt so whole right then, standing on the beach in the early morning, I knew this place was no longer my home."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Twilight (the saga)

I thought I would take a minute or two just share my thoughts about this particular book saga.

The truth is, when I first heard about the movie and the books I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be interested in it at all. Considering with the fact that my main vampire interest days seemed to have peaked somewhere about 1995 or so with the onslaught of the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles. However, I like to watch movies and this one intrigued me, just because. When J- was out of town I got it from Netflix (I knew he would not want to watch it, never really having gone through any sort of vamp stage). After my little one was settled into bed for the night and I was ready to just relax I put it on to give it a try. Truthfully I had not followed all the hype and had no idea how good or bad it was proclaimed in the media, I simply knew it was in the media.

I really enjoyed the movie. Well it was more the actual story I loved. I'm a romantic at heart and if truth be told I like happy endings that are somewhat sappy and probably not that realistic. However they make me smile and I do love that warm fuzzy feeling inside.

So, since I like, ok well I'll just say it, loved it, I thought I might like to read the books too. So I went on the hunt to find the series to borrow. In the library here there was llike a two month waiting list. I wasn't committed enough to buy them. Finally a friend helped me connect with a set to borrow.

Let me tell you that for me these books were like crack. I could not put them down. I think it was just becasue I allowed myself to both sympathize and empathize with the main themes of deep love, loss and hurt, growth and change, rebirth into our next stage of life. I read the books twice in less than a week. The first time I devoured them reading so quickly and so caught up that at the end I was so sad for them to be done. So I read them again at a slower rate, which for me is still fairly quick.

Now I won't go so far as to these books are a Literary Masterpiece. They are simple for an adult to read being geared to a teenage audience and all. However, I would recommend them to others that simply just an't get enough of a good love story with a lot of twists and turns.

So, that's my two cents. Take it or leave it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sweet Child O' Mine

...and I am not referring to the wildly successful GnR song from ages ago. My boy has been really into listening to books on CD lately. We started with the very traditional Henry Huggins and have pretty much worked our way through Beverly Cleary including timeless classics like Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Ribsy and also adding other childhood favorites like Judy Blume's Freckle Juice. Now he's on to whatever we can get our hands (for instance Hank the Cow Dog) and he just loves it. Spending practically hours at a time playing and listening. Lucky for me the library is such a fantastic resource.

The truth is I was starting to feel a bit guilty about the amount of time he was spending alone just listening and playing, although I could tell he was really enjoying it. So yesterday I asked if he would like for me to come up with a project or activity for him to do. He of course answered , "No, I'm enjoying playing mom." However about 30minutes later he came to me ready to create something and asked for popsicle sticks, glue and paint. I set him up with a nicely covered area and off to work he went using his imagination in an unfettered way and came up with all sorts of really neat items including (and this is all boy and fantasy) a very special dagger and one for daddy too, a wooden painted raft, and the one that I thought was the coolest a name plate that he wants to hang on his wall when we get somewhere that we can, "make holes in the wall."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Watermelon Granita

I just learned about granita this summer from a new friend of mine. If you don't know what one is, you are missing out, especially here in the middle of summer. A granita is a frozen fruit treat akin to ices. Well it's actually more like a shaved ice than traditional Italian ices. I have used this basic recipe that I am about to share with different kinds of juices, such as cranberry, orange-apple, peach and they have all been delicious. However, the watermelon is my favorite.

1C filtered or spring water
1/4C agave nectar
3C watermelon juice *

In a saucepan combine the water and agave and heat unitl all the agave is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the juice. POur into a 9 x 13 glass dish and place in the freezer. Every 20 minutes take a fork and drag it through the liquid until it is completely frozen. Dragging the fork through the juice as it freezes creates air cirulation and causes flaking of the ice crystals making a crisp, sweet and fruity dessert.

*Watermelon is mostly water and so you can put the flesh through a juicer and then mash the pulp through a strainer. There will be very little pulp when you done and lots of yummy juice.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chilled Cucumber Vegetable Soup

I wanted to share this great cooling summertime recipe that I came up with yesterday. We really enjoyed and maybe you will too.

2T olive oil
1T minced garlic
1/2 onion diced
1- 1/4" piece of fresh ginger
1 bay leaf

3C peeled, seeded, cubed cucumbers
1 medium sweet potato peeled and cubed
1C seeded and diced watermelon
1 small beet peeled and diced
1/4C fresh basil leaves
3/4tsp sea salt
1/2tsp dill
white pepper to taste

2C broth of your choosing

*Heat olive oil in a medium sized pot. Add garlic, onion, ginger and bay leaf and sautee until onion browns slightly. Add remaining ingredients excpet broth and sautee about 3-5 minutes stirring often. Pour both into pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer covered for about 25 minutes (or until all vegetables are soft and cooked through). Allow to cool to room temperature. Remove bay leaf (and ginger if you wish) and pour into a food processor. Process until the soup is rich and creamy. Refrigerate about an hour before eating.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Who is Beadtanical Betty?

Hello out there in cyberland. I'm Beadtanical Betty, although my name is not actually Betty...I'm thinking of that in more of the general familiarity of the word as in skate Betty or surf Betty only for me I'm more of a homemaker Betty. I suppose I think that means that I rock out in the household department. I do truly enjoy creating a fun, safe and genuinely happy household.

I spend a lot of hours in kitchen cooking up tasty dishes to feed my family and friends. I love to play outdoors and hike in the woods and take in beautiful vistas and wildflowers. I also create a variety of jewlery and floral peices using the French beaded flower technique.

I hope to use this blog as a place to chare my creative ideas, beautiful images of the wild, delicious dishes and funny antics from the life of a five year old, and of course the occasional mommy rant.