Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Touch of Winter

Tonight i tasted winter
she was sweet
and crisp
tempting me
with the promise
of coo, dark, sleep
and reflection
Through the sky
she danced
with fluid motion
tossing leaves
and caution to the wind
Oh, that Winter,
she can be a wicked
child
throwing tantrums
and wreaking havoc
blanketing the world
in white
In her mischief
lives an inherent wisdom
She tells us
calmly and firm
"Slow down,
Breathe"
"Get cozy,
Breathe"
"Hunker down
get your mind straight,
Breathe"

Friday, December 16, 2011

Post Oak

One thing I do love about living here are the amazing Post Oaks. My favorite time to appreciate them is after they lost their leaves. The branches are so sturdy and gnarled I am always sure that if I listen closely enough they will have a story to tell me. When I am lucky enough to pay attention and catch a view of the dark branches twisted against the glowing sunset, I feel like I have been given a secret gift.

So, if you will be so kind, raise your glass and share a toast with me," To the Post Oak, the Keystone species of the Cross Timbers ecosystem of North Texas, thank you for adding beauty to my life."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday, bah humbug...and cranberry sauce

The leaves continue to fall from the trees lining Lake Hamilton blanketing the yards and open spaces. On the deck outside, my son has made a pile in hues of red, gold and brown to use as part of his imaginary play. The geese and ducks glide swiftly across the ripples of the lake and fat brown squirrels chase each other up and down the tall oak. I am warm, my belly is still full from yesterday's home cooked meal and a big old dog is curled up on the floor near me while a friendly pool game ensues.

Today is a lovely day to appreciate the plentiful life I have.

In our modern society where so many people are concerned with "keeping up" I am making a conscious effort to simply maintain. In fact, in the past few months (minus the new additions gifted from my mom) I have been making the decision to try and rid myself of "things". One thing I am working to rid myself of is the feeling that I need more when in truth I already have everything I actually need: water, food, a roof over my head, clothing, warmth in winter, a family whom I love, and ever growing community of like-minded folks.

In our country, even those who feel like they have very little, posses greater wealth than people in so many other countries. We take for granted the fact that we have drinkable water delivered directly to our homes and accessible whenever we want and most of us have access to food all the time. Food and water to nourish our bodies is a blessing to be thankful for.

We, as a country also create some of largest amount of waste in world and use more of the world's resources than any other country. The US only makes up 5% of the world population but as a whole we are a consumptive super power wreaking havoc and leaving destruction everywhere we go. Greed and entitlement lead to unhealthy, malnourished spirits.

Today, with this whole Capitalist ploy of Black Friday and consumptive consumerism getting ready to sweep in and take over the holiday season, I want to remind everyone that we are not alone in this world. We live such individualistic lives even though the whole world is connected. When we make a conscious decision to consume to our hearts content, we can be sure that somewhere, someone else is lacking and it may be a direct correlation. This is what I think is one of the main things wrong with our society, lack of regard for other humans' rights to exist with integrity just so that we can have as much as possible. As I have been reminded by some very smart folks from an older generation, "It doesn't matter how much you have, you can't take it with you when you go."

It is my wish this holiday season that as a whole society we can find it in ourselves to come together and stop making a few people monetarily wealthy and work towards creating a wealthy world.

If you are going to be shopping for gifts this year, I know I will be as well, take the time to know your local shopkeeper. Buy from local crafts people or fair trade organizations. Make a gift contribution to a charity organization in someone's name, for instance Heifer International. Find out where items are made and what kind of record the corporation making the product has. Follow your money trail and see where it leads. As a whole, we should have learned by now that our use of our monetary resources speaks loudly. So, I say choose wisely where you spend it.

Let's start now and make changes that help create a healthy, wealthy world for all of the children growing up, being born, and not yet thought of.

As a little gift from me to you to start spreading the sweetness, here is my newest recipe for Cranberry Sauce.

1 bag organic cranberries
2/3 c organic golden raisins (feel free to use less if you want)
1/2c organic maple syrup
1/2c organic brown rice syrup
1/4 organic orange juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch of nutmeg

1/2 tsp organic corn starch mixed with 2 tsp water to make a slurry

Put all of the ingredients except cornstarch slurry into a 2qt pot. Cook over medium heat, mixing occasionally, until all of the cranberries "pop", or about 20-30 minutes. If there are still some whole ones, give them a hand by pressing them against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. If your sauce is thick, don't worry about the cornstarch. If your sauce is still very liquidy, make sure it is gently boiling and pour in a small amount of the cornstarch. Stir until completely dissolved and keep adding in small amounts until desired thickness is reached. Cool and serve.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A visit from mom

It's way too late and yet sleep isn't coming my way.

The past few days have been full of fun and adventure. My mom has been visiting from the east and we, along with my son, have been having quite a blast. We've built Lego creations, eaten in a faux rainforest, danced and sang at a Harambee, been to the movies and shopped past the point of our hearts content.





Friday, November 11, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sense of place

Readjusting to life in Texas after an eastward summer journey presents me with an interesting conundrum. How do I be "me" in a place where I do not feel completely like "me"? This is a question and a state of mind that I have been dealing with for the past month and a half.

In NC, when I am there, deep within my being I feel at ease, at one with the with the surrounding environment, whole. Here in northern TX, I still feel like a visitor even though we're heading into our official second year as residents. It's not that I don't find natural beauty in the prairie or in the amazing sunsets. It's more that I feel all the weight lifted from my shoulders when I am in southern Appalachia and as of yet that hasn't been my experience here.

The challenge I posed to myself for this year is to expand my mind and figure out how to be exactly who I am in an environment that feels foreign. So far, I have actually learned quite a bit about myself.

For instance, once our homeschool co-op started and I began teaching art class, my happiness level rose substantially. In working with kids and creating, I feel at one with myself and I feel connected to a larger community, which is very important to me.
I am making a concerted effort to offer my creativity and skills to causes that I feel connected to, such as providing encouragement to a woman I know who wants to open a homebrew and tea shop as well offering ideas and help in planning a holiday fundraiser for the Denton Community Market.

I am also trying to just enjoy being in this environment that is still new to me and take time to walk in the wilderness and learn new plants. This past week Ian and I walked Frodo early in the morning and became familiar with Snow on the Prairie, a lovely little white flower with alluring sepals, and set our eyes on a lovely purple thistle.

So I hope you will join me this evening in raising a glass and sharing a toast to overcoming obstacles and finding a sense of place. L'chaim.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

september

I wrote this poem last week as September made it's way into my life. I'm glad that we have had a cooling weather pattern since then, but I still wanted to share.


September arriving
on a warm morning breeze
leaving August behind
the Texas heat
is stifling
and I dream up
cooler temperatures
and rain
snow on the prairie
blooms in stars of white
while trees and grass dry out
nearby
i too feel dry
kids mold clay
and talk about Africa
i suppose the heat
is stronger there
next week
i'll break out
primary colors
and we'll paint
our visions
into existence

Saturday, September 3, 2011

September in Texas



Truth be told, I have not been very good about keeping up here lately. I thought that this summer in North Carolina would have me bursting with exciting things to share and it was. The problem in keeping up with my weekly posts was that I was so very busy and having such a blast that I didn't take time out to tell you all about it.

Here's a quick synopsis.

I headed out from Texas at the end of May. After a week on the lake at my in-laws' house, we headed east to NC as a fivesome (Ian, Jim, out two dogs and I). In the beginning I posted. I shared photos and poems and the loss of sweet Little Deer.





Then life got busy. We moved from our old acquaintances cabin to the home of a new one. The neighbors had a grandson close to Ian's age visiting and they got along like old friends. we barely saw him for that week.

Around that time I started working more shifts at the Knife and Fork. This is a great little jewel of a restaurant in Speuce Pine, NC. Chef Nate Allen and his wife Wendy Gardner, pull out all the stops offering fresh local seasonal foods and wonderful service. If you're in that area please check them out (www.knifeandforknc.com) . I had such a wonderful time being a part of their team during this summer and I look forward to next time.




I Also got to spend so much quality with my dear friends, Nicole, Gaelan and Marcie. I have known Marcie since my first year in college at ASU and Nicole and Gaelan since I first moved to teh South Toe Valley. As I've gotten older, I've realized that having friends like them is really a special treat. It seems to get harder all the time to make those deep connections that I know will last the rest of my life.




My son went away to camp for the first time, and let me just tell you he did it big time, 3 whole weeks. It was the longest three weeks I have experienced since he was conceived. In fact the first time I saw him from a distance I cried for the following 20 minute drive to work. At that point it had been about 8 days. I finally got used to him being away and did enjoy the time to myself as well the chance to have alone time with my sweetie. We had a blast hanging around in the mountains together laughing, reading poems, walking in the woods and spending time together.

Then before I could blink it was over and we were on our way back to Texas. Now, here we are settled in after a few weeks and remembering how to be who we are in an environment we have a hard time connecting to. Anyway, the snow on the prarie is blooming, the warm winds are blowing, homeschool co-op is going and UNT is in full swing. Life is always moving forward and it is up to us to hold on tight and enoy the ride.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

True Farm to Table: Green Toe Ground Farm



My friends Nicole Delcogliano and Gaelan Corozine, along with their daughters have a beautiful farm called Green Toe Ground, located on the South Toe River. As a family and with help from Summer interns they run a small Biodynamic farm supplying local folks and restaurants with fresh, delicious vegetables. They’ve been living, playing and working on their farm for over a decade.

Gaelan was drawn to farming at a young age. When he was a teenager, Gaelan traveled to Italy to visit family and friends. While he was there, he fell in love with the land and the practice of working it. He apprenticed with a farmer and began to craft himself into a person of the land. After he returned to the US, Gaelan’s interest in farming continued to blossom and grow into a way of life. He worked with a local guy that had a CSA, which stands for community sponsored agriculture. The premise behind a CSA is that each member pays for a part of the production cost and in return receives a share of the vegetables. In this way, the farmer and the members are partners sharing equally in abundance (when the crops are good) and in scarcity (when a crop doesn’t make it). Gaelan’s next big move was to the Arthur Morgan School, in Celo, NC. Introduced to the school by a friend, Gaelan took a job as the gardener. By this time Gaelan had met Nicole and they came together from upstate New York to relocate and try out life in the South Toe Valley. It wasn’t long before they were hooked and began to see their future here in a beautiful swath of sandy loam located next to the South Toe River.

After partnering with Robert Tate for a few years, Gaelan and Nicole bought out his share in Green Toe Ground and began to transform it into their dream of a biodynamic farm. With a lot of hard work and dedication from their family, Green Toe Ground is a thriving, brightly colored, nutrient rich farm in full swing. So far this year Green Toe Ground has produced enough vegetables to feed all of it’s members as well as extra that has been bought up by restaurants in Asheville, NC and surrounding area proudly serving locally grown foods. Just the other day one of the interns told me they harvested 500 pounds of tomatoes. Talk about abundance.

Not only do Gaelan and Nicole take pleasure in growing vegetables they also enjoy cooking up the vegetables they nurture into maturity. This includes wonderful Italian feasts which are presented to farm dinner guests under a canopy of stars and twinkle lights by the bank of the South Toe River. The Green Toe Ground farm dinner is an event I have had the good fortune to participate in multiple times. Each time I was impressed with the dedication of my friends to make sure all of their guests had a night to remember.

Over the past two years and with the opening of the Knife & Fork restaurant in Spruce Pine, NC, Gaelan has had the opportunity to spend more time in the kitchen. During the first year of the Knife & Fork, Gaelan worked as the Sous Chef for Nate Allen (owner and chef at the Knife & Fork). Gaelan and Nate worked closely crafting delicious meals made from locally grown vegetables and meats. Gaelan, being a farmer as well as cook contributed to the restaurant in a very direct way. Not only did he give his time and energy to the plants while they were growing in the field, he also gave his time and energy to transform them into wonderful meals to be eaten and enjoyed. So this year when Nate created his team for the WNC Chef Challenge, it was no surprise Gaelan was asked to join the team. With the addition of Brenda Poole, who is the Knife & Fork pastry chef, the team was set for competition.

Fifteen other teams and three feasts later, the team from the Knife & Fork is headed to the finals. They will be going up against the Bistro at Biltmore for the title of Asheville’s top chefs.

I don’t know what the outcome will be, and by that I mean who the judges will choose as the winner. I do know that the meal awaiting the judges will be delectable. I had the opportunity to attend the third round dinner (Knife & Fork vs Posano). I was utterly impressed and pleased by the way the K&F team incorporated the secret ingredient: peaches. It will be interesting to see what the final secret ingredient will be.

While I won’t be able to attend the challenge, I will be waiting to hear the results.

For some of us, there is a deep love affair with food that is a part of our lives. I believe Gaelan is one of these people. He gives of himself utterly to provide clean, pure, fresh food that others can eat. He loves the land where the food grows and appreciates the opportunity to share that love with others. In true farm to table style Gaelan is the complete package of farmer chef.

To learn more about Green Toe Ground Farm , Gaelan and his family visit their website at www.greentoegroundnc.com and check out the farm blog at www.greentoeground.blogspot.com

Friday, August 5, 2011

high cove
wind blows
roan mountain in the distance
golden feather
cicadas sing
i breath in the mountains
at their insistence
summer's waning
my boy is playing
the crescent moon
smiles down upon me
time is moving
faster
i move with caution
thinking carefully
so to avoid
disaster
keeping the sadness
at bay
psyching myself up
for the prairie
i'm on my way
full circle
heading back west
after a refreshing splash
in my favorite
river

Friday, July 8, 2011

Farm Party

This past Monday was the Fourth of July, as most of you already know. Last year my friends over at Green Toe Ground started a new tradition. They decided to combine their birthday celebrations and the celebration of the Fourth into one big shindig. It went off without a hitch and this year proved to be even better. I was glad to be here to help with preparations and party down.




Here you can see Nicole sporting her temporary radish tattoo and getting ready to change into a newly silk screened Green Toe Ground t-shirt.


Here you can see Nate Allen working on the spit roasting of Buster the pig. Early in the morning Gaelan and some friends got together and slaughtered the pig. Then Nate stuffed the pig with chickens and lots of fresh thyme. I made a huge batch of Colonel Neff's sauce and brought it over to the farm figuring that we'd serve it up with the finished pig. Nate thought it was delicious and decided to use it in addition to his own hot sauce goodness as a finishing baste.

I decided that I wanted to come up with some activities for the kids to have fun with. Here's Ian with his cork boat getting ready to race it down the rapids. We also had bubble blowing, face/body painting and water balloon throwing.



For the farm fashion show, Ashely who used to work for Sweetheart bakery put her artistic skills to work and painted me a beautiful cornucopia that covered my whole upper back. It was so beautiful and I really appreciated her taking time out from the party to do it.

And here, in purple glory are the t-shirts we screened using the beautiful hand made screen that Tara (and Joe) gifted them last year. The underwear served as 1st prize for the winner of the farm olympics. There was live music, swimming, dancing, laughing, fireworks and a blast had by all.

Friday, July 1, 2011

rhododendron in bloom

All around me the mountains are bursting into colorful splendor, spotted with blooms ranging in hues from deep pink to white and everything in between. It's a treat for the senses to get up close and inspect all of the little details in each flower.

Summer is rolling along.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Delicious nettles

Start with a fresh picked bundle. Handle carefully and remove leaves from base stem.


Place leaves in a shallow pot of boiling water and wilt down until bright green and soft. Eat these healthy, nutrient packed greens. I like mine with just a hint of umeboshi vinegar or simply plain.
After you've eaten all of the greens, then you can pour the leftover cooking liquid, or "pot liquor" into a glass and drink it as a warm nettles tea.

Enjoy!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

notes on a rainstorm

i'm cleaning the cabin

after a week of deep green

on the south toe,

outside, the mother bird

huddles deep into

her corner porch nest

as thunder rolls and rain

comes down hard

i mop

mother nature replenishes

in unison

we freshen the spaces

surrounding us

i jump the gap

heading down the rock walk

to run a load of things

for packing in the car

but she catches me

now, wet

i too am washed

by her majesty



Monday, June 13, 2011

Little Deer, March 11, 1196-June 12, 2011


A poem by Jim Veteto


Little Deer (March 11, 1996-June 12, 2011)


Never before

had I seen a dog

climb vertical rock mountain walls

run with albino deer

hunt down white possum

and birds out of trees in winter.

You traveled the whole wide country with me

into deep wilderness

numerous Indian reservations

Earth First camps

and rainbow gatherings.

You sensed things

--often before me--

and gave me that look

of awareness and concern

A true pack animal

yet one of a kind

You came to us

when Hale-Bopp was in the sky

a full moon

and the planets aligned.

You left us the eve

of an intense Appalachian lightning storm

gone down to the pond

to end it all.

I always felt

you were an indigenous dog

one left over from the old Indian camps

that may have mixed with more modern breeds.

The way you moved

the way you hunted

more cat-like

than dog

and you crossed your legs in front of you like a proper princess.

Today you are gone back to spirit

and tonight we celebrate your life

around the pyre.

Little Deer Woman

your spirit lives on among us

we will always tell the tale

of your life and times.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Loving the South Toe Valley

It's been one fabulous week here in the South Toe River Valley. We've shared meals with great friends, played and swam in the river, hiked in the woods, said hello to and eaten familiar plants and I even started a new job. Can't wait to see what else will come our way.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ginger Snap Cookies

Today I was planning on making some cookies to have available for the weekend. I went straight to one of my favorite food blogs, elanaspantry.com , she posts delicious recipes that are gluten free and can be converted to meet all sorts of food issues (ie, vegan, dairy free, sugar free etc...)

I have previously been making her chocolate chip cookies as a go-to cookie but wanted something different. And, I found it. A ginger cookie. Here's her recipe...

http://www.elanaspantry.com/ginger-cookies

Ginger Cookies
2 ½ cups blanched almond flour
½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground ginger
½ cup grapeseed oil
¼ cup yacon syrup
½ cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
  1. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda and ginger
  2. In a medium bowl, combine grapeseed oil, yacon, agave and lemon zest
  3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry
  4. Scoop 1 tablespoon of dough at a time onto a parchment lined baking sheet
  5. Bake at 350° for 7-10 minutes, until tops start to crack
  6. Cool and serve


I actually wanted to make a few changes to accommodate our needs and the ingredients I had available so here's is my version:

Ginger Snaps:
2-1/2c Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2c canola oil
1/4c organic sorghum molasses
1/2c Suzanne's Specialties original brown rice syrup
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Pre-heat the oven to 350


First gather up all of your ingredients to your workspace.

Next, in a large bowl combine the almond flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger and cinnamon. In a large measuring cup combine the oil, molasses, rice syrup and lemon zest and whisk together until well blended. Pour wet into dry and stir. This is a thick dough but it should not be sticky.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. I used a tablespoon of dough per cookie and rolled each one into a ball and then pressed flat. Bake for about 10 minutes until they are golden and have cracked on the top.


Take them out of the oven and let cool. Although to be perfectly honest we ate some nice and warm and they were delicious. Be aware, the ginger flavor seems subtle at first but builds as you eat the cookie until it is full bodied and wonderful.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Coconut Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

These yummy cookies are vegan and gluten free and remind me of a sandy or shortbread cookie.

By:Alena Veteto


Makes 3 dozen
Pre-heat oven to 350

1/2c coconut oil
1/2c spectrum shortening
1c sugar
1T molasses
1/2 banana, mashed
2t vanilla extract
1/2c chocolate chips (njoy life brand)
2c Bob's red mill gluten free baking mix
1t baking soda
2t guar gum
1/2t salt

In a large bowl cream together coconut oil, shortening and sugar. Add molasses, banana and vanilla, stir. Then add the remaining ingredients and mix. Roll into walnut sized balls and press flat, place on an un-greased baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Summer Journey on the Horizon

dreaming of lush green
of songbirds singing
and splashes of color
flitting by
on the tip of my mind's tongue
i can taste
the dew soaked air
and feel the mountain
kiss my cheek
while feathery hemlock boughs
gently brush against
my shoulder
a flutter within
as my heart
finds its energetic connection
and clouds roll like waves
over ridges
thoughts blow by
on the whipping winds
of the prairie
with grasses waving hello
and goodbye

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Blueberry Orange Marmalade Pie

A new pie packed full of antioxidants, and it's vegan.



Blueberry Orange Marmalade pie

By: Alena Veteto

5 cups blueberries

1 cup orange marmalade

3/4c unbleached sugar

¼ tsp salt

1T lemon juice

1/2tsp vanilla

4T corn starch

Preheat oven to 350

In a bowl mix together all ingredients.

Pour into a pie crust. Cover loosely with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 20-30 minutes more until the crust is cooked and the pie is bubbling.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Musing 5

I am grateful to be this morning. The sun is shining down and the breeze is blowing gently. A woodpecker knocks against the power pole and calls out for a mate. My son and I take a walk and talk about numbers and salamander-lizard warriors he's currently creating in his mind.




Wildflowers have been popping up in fields all over town spreading cheer and adding bright colors to the landscape. The Indian Blankets glow in bright orange and the Wine Cups call to me in shades of brilliant magenta. The prickly pear cacti have begun to show their softer side with delicate yellow and orange blooms leading me to remember the sweet taste of prickly pear syrup made from the ripe juicy fruits.

This past weekend a visit to Dinosaur Valley State Park. On the bank of the Paluxy River looking into the water, amazed at tracks left by ancient reptiles. Therapod and Sauropod tracks dot the riverscape. I am reminded how small my human size is as I sit in a huge footprint from long long ago. The river is cool and refreshing and the limestone/alkalinity of it leaves its trace on my skin and in my hair. Beautiful.




Rounding out our trip is a visit to Fossil Rim Wildlife Preserve. It's the sort of place you drive though and feed pellet food to the "free" roaming animals preserved therein. Ian thought it was spectacular. Zebras and Giraffes coming right up to your car, the latter eating out of our hands. It was a treat to see so many interesting animals up close.



As I shift to prepare myself for the coming summer, I say "Bring it on," I'm ready for my adventure to continue.

Friday, April 8, 2011

the Slaw and the Slow Cooked

Holy Moly, let me just say WoW! I just stumbled across the first listing for the book my husband co-edited. After a long a greuling process it's amazing to see the project headed into the final phase of actually being a hard-cover book. It won't be out until December, but if you feel the need you may visit the site and pre-order copies. How cool is this?!

Check the link below to read all about it, The Slaw and the Slow Cooked, edited by James R Veteto and Ted Maclin http://www.vanderbiltuniversitypress.com/books/430/the-slaw-and-the-slow-cooked

Monday, April 4, 2011

Raw Chocolate Pudding

It's been a whilr since I've posted anything new here, I guess life has been busy. I just made this delicious dessert that an acquaintance of mine from Athens, GA came up with. Her name is Holly Riley and she has a creative flair in the kitchen. Trust me when I tell you that this pudding is absolutely delicious and catres to all my peeps who are Vegan, Gluten Free, Raw Fooders... Raw Pudding 2 ripe avacados 1 ripe banana 2 TBLS coconut oil 1/2 cup raw cacao 1/3 cup agave 1 tsp vanilla (alcohol free) dash salt dash cinnamon if you found it enjoyable you can check out some of her other ideas at www.growingrileys.blogspot.com

Friday, March 18, 2011

at lake Ray Roberts

in a half asleep state
i hear and feel the wind
against the taut tent fabric
it ripples and sways slightly with the gusts
leaves picked from tree limbs
or the forest floor
occasionally pitter-pattering upon the rain fly
i am concerned there may be rain
through the fabric
i can see a hint of moonlight though
and i am reassured that the clouds
hold no moisture
the air is crisp and cool
refreshing to breathe in
a rejuvenating elixir offering relief to my lungs
filled with the city
in and out of slumber i drift
interrupted by the night sounds
i am no longer used to
in the dim of morning
a chickadee sings nearby
a cardinal lends his voice
and an unfamiliar trill
greet me with the joy of a new day
i lay quietly and listen to their song
coming to me on the still blowing wind

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

inspired by color

This past weekend we went to the North Texas Irish Fest in Dallas. There was a lot of good music and crafts. Also there were so many folks wandering around with a lively spirit. We saw medieval maidens, queens and kings, men in armor, steampunk fantasy creations, and of course many kilted men. It was nice to wander among these folks and feel the air of fantasy I so ofteen work to create in my daily life. I am hoping one day to have my own medieval costume complete with corset, large bustling skirt, and ruffled sleeves hanging at the wrists.


Another person creating an air of fantasy was this guy working on a huge chalk drawing in the middle of the fair. I enjoyed watching him work and felt inspired by all of the colorful chalks he had lined up and ready to go.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday musing 4

Last week I was in a major winter funk. It's not that I have anything against winter actually, it's just that usually sometime in February I experience an inward shift that can lead me down a bad way quickly. When I say a bad way, I'm not talking about anything drastic like binge drinking or drug use but something that for many people can be much worse. I get into a bad habit of self beratement. My mind begins to constantly pick apart all of the little things in my life that I do not think are going well and rip them to shreds until I am a grouchy, headache having, dark circles, cry in an instant, mean kind of person. At least to the person who is closest to me, my husband. To everyone else I still maintain my "normal" appearance.

When this begins to happen to me, I know that the ebst course of actions would be to tell him that I need a good talk. That I need an hour of his time just to listen and help me process the irrational emotions wreaking havoc on my life schema. Usually I wait until my breaking point hits to actually ask him for help. I don't know why, he has never since I've known him refused to help me when I have needed it.

By the time I am "breaking" as it were, he has most likely spent most of our interactions during the previoous week trying to ligthen the mood and make me laugh, reminding that everything is really ok. That I'm healthy, usually happy and have a wonderful son. I know all of these things but it doesn't help me. When I finally do break down and share the things in my head, he always listens. He is patient with me as I let loose, sometimes being overly critical of him, without telling me I am wrong, or what I am feeling is wrong. He is a good listener. He reassures me. Afterward my mind and heart begin to lighten. Even though this process is painful for me (and for him too) I think I come out better on the other side. It's like that deep internal winter reflection all comes to a head and is shouting to burst forth and into the next season. I emerge more aware of myself, my habits, and who I am, ready to continue my growth for the next year.

This time around, it didn't help that the following day, after my breaking point, the sun began to shine brightly again and the temperatures began to warm up. Last week felt like spring with sun and warmth and flowers beginning to bloom around town. I am hopful, inspired, and lucky to have such a great family.

May your life be blessed by someone who takes you for who you are and is glad of all of your faults. When you reach your dark winter place, may there be someone with a hand outstretched to help you reach the surface and breathe. And may the waves of doubt in your mind that have the ability to wreak chaos help you find a calm shoreline upon which to walk.

I'm looking forward to spring and new beginnings, bright colored flowers blooming, new birds migrating through, and the continuing of my grand life adventure.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pasta sauce

A simple and delicious pasta sauce I came up with just the other day. Who says you need to have sugar in your tomato sauce? Not me.


2T olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 fresh roma tomato, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 can Muir Glen organic fire roasted diced tomatoes, plus 1 can of water
1/2 can organic tomato paste

1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt (this measurement is to taste, I used only 1/4tsp)
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried italian herb blend (usually found in bulk at your local health food store)
1/4 tsp garlic granules (or course ground powder)

1T red miso diluted in 1/2 cup warm water

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. (Although I prefer to use my deep cast iron skillet). Then add the onion and sautee on medium heat until translucent. Add the tomato, zucchini and garlic and cook until soft.

Then add the tomatoes, straight from the can, and the paste. Fill the tomato can with water and add that as well. Add all of the spices except the miso. Simmer on a medium-low heat for about 20 minutes. The sauce will begin to thicken. Then add the diluted miso and simmer another 5 minutes.

Top your favorite pasta and enjoy.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday musing 3

Once again it's Monday, they start of the proverbial week. I'm glad to report that sun is shining here and that does put a smile on my face. We've had a reprieve from the inablilty to handle winter weather and that was a good thing, being able to get out of the house and drive through town without fear of sliding or colliding due to ice.

I suppose I won't celebrate the sun and warmer temps too much just yet as there is a call for more snow and ice starting tomorrow night and then again later in the week. Oh well, at least being cozy at home with the family is something I truly enjoy.

Well, I'm sure cheese heads everywhere are delighted with the outcome of the superbowl. There were quite a few injuries on the astroturf and more long hairs on the field than I can honestly say I've noticed in a quite a while. I guess the game was considered to be pretty good football. What started out like it might be a shut out of a game turned competitive after half time and was actually pretty entertaining.

However I cannot say the same for the Black Eye Peas performance at half time. Maybe I'm showing my age by admitting that when it comes to seeing/hearing live music at this stage of my life I really perfer to actually see people playing instruments as opposed to just singing and dancing on stage. While the light up costumes were kind of flashy and mildly entertaining as were all of the light up dancers, Slash, lending the sweet guitar chords I've come to know and love as Sweet Child of Mine totally stole the show. And of course gimmicks, which seemed to be what the performance was all about continued throughout even bringing singer Usher down from the rafters and onto the stage.

All in all my superbowl watching experience was fun combined with snacks (none of which were advertised during the game) and good conversation (which often included mocking of things that were advertised during the game).

Now that I've gotten that all out of my brain, will I be able to make the leap into this morning's schooling? I'm sure I will but after spending the week cooped up in the house and neighborhood, I think we're both wanting to play with others, somehting we usually get plenty of.

My stream of consciusness seems to be dwindling out so, I guess that's about all for this morning.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Warm soup for a snowy day

Now, I'll admit that when I moved here to texas in the midst of one hot summer, I could not have forseen the current weather outside. It was 110 degrees in August, a complete extreme opposite from the -10 degree wind chill that's been blowing here this week. Today there is snow falling continuing the essential shut down of the little north Texas town I live in. Under this falling snow, the streets have been covered in a layer of ice for the past week. Of course having lived in cold places in the not too far past, we're well prepared with long johns and wool sweaters, snow pants and heavy coats, and of course wool socks and winter gloves.

I'm not so bothered by the cold weather. It's just come as a surprise. I feel lucky for that we're a homeschool family because snow and winter weather provide great opportunities for both fun and learning. We can measure how deep the snow is in the middle of the yard compared to how deep it is in the drifts. We can see how much water is left in a glass after the snow melts. And we can make snow cream!!!

This week I've been making a lot of hearty warm meals to keep our insides from chilling. Last night I made a delicious potato soup and thought I'd share the basic recipe with you.


Creamy Potato and Vegetable soup (vegan)

4 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 rapunzel brand bouillion cubes, sea salt and herbs
4 cups of water (maybe more)

4 cups of fresh washed spinach
8 oz mushrooms sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
6 cloves garlic
2T olive oil

salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Place the cubed potatoes, veggie bouillion and water in a large pot. You want enough water to be a good 3 inches over the potatoes. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium and cook potatoes until they are completely done, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile in a large skillet heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and sautee for about a minute. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft. Then add spinach, bell pepper, and a pich of salt and sautee until all vegetables are cooked and soft. Add enough salt, pepper and garlic powder to give a good flavor.

When the potatoes are done cooking, use and immersion blender to turn them and the cooking liquid into a puree. Add the cooked vegetables mixture and season to taste. Enjoy!