Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thoughts today

I've been thinking about food....(I'm always thinking about food.)
I've been thinking about my future job.
I've been dreaming about decorating our new house that we are buying this year.
I've been thinking about the big beautiful California sky I see on my morning walks.
I've been dreaming about puppies.
I've been wondering if Road Runners can fly....I saw two this morning...such big clumsy looking birds!
I've been thinking about my grandmother.
I've been thinking about skin...my aging skin.
I've been thinking about so many things...what have you been thinking/dreaming about?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Long time

A little voice inside my head has kept telling me to start blogging again...it's been there for months now... so here I am because I missed it so much! My daughter goes back to school tomorrow so I figured I will have some free time again. We've had a great summer of fun and traveling. My mind feels clear and I'm ready to share. My intention when starting this blog was to post continuously...obviously that did not happen. Life happened and I got sidetracked. It seemed like one more thing I had to do. That's no fun!!! So no expectations this time. I might blog frequently or I might be absent from time to time. I'm glad to be back though....I have so much I want to share!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Beware: Warm Cookies

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. - Dr.Seuss

Another rainy day...which is o.k....because I've been in create mode! It's nice to feel connected and creative.

Sewing Project: Cut, Sew and Stuff doll (a birthday gift project given to my daughter in February)

 Below is the felted heart project I started months ago.....this was my first attempt...I learned how not to stitch it today. I have another one almost completed...need to felt it, cut the hearts out and stitch it...next time I'm hoping for a less lopsided heart. It smells delicious..we stuffed it with rice and fragrant dried herbs. Heat it in the microwave for about 30 seconds and voila! Perfect for hanging in closets or stuffing into clothes drawers.

We made these yummy morsels after dinner tonight...if you like shortbread cookies don't make these because you will eat all of them after they come out of the oven.  Also, if you do decide to make these....I added a heaping 1/4 tsp of cardamon and cinnamon and about 1/8 tsp of cloves...the first time I made them I followed the recipe exactly and it definitely needed more spice

Chai Shortbread adapted from Cooking Light

1 1/2cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cardamon
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
dash of cloves
dash of pepper
3/4 cup powdered sugar
10 tbsp of softened butter
1 tbsp of cold water

Combine flour and next 5 ingredients(through pepper), stir well with whisk. In a separate medium bowl combine sugar and butter. Beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture. Beat at low speed until combined....will be crumbly. Sprinkle dough with cold water and toss with fork. Divide dough in half. Shape dough into logs, about 6 inches long. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1hour or until firm.

Preheat oven to 375
Unwrap logs and cut into thin slices. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for about 10min or until edges slightly browned. Cool on racks. 

These are super, super, SUPER yummy served warmed. 

We also made this yummy cauliflower side dish tonight for dinner. Very good...My advice if you try this, cut the pieces small so it will cook through. I didn't cut mine up small enough...and the larger pieces weren't cooked all they way through!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cloudy with Rain

I've just finished my shower and my oatmeal is cooking on the stove. The little one is still asleep....that doesn't happen often. I love the stillness of the morning. The birds are actively chattering....the skies are grey again and we are suppose to get rain. It looks like rain! Yesterday we were lucky and got a mid afternoon walk in....my 6 year old daughter said to me, "Mom let's make a plant and insect book". It made my heart smile because I loved doing stuff like that as a kid. I loved nature so much and still do! So we collected pretty leaves, flowers, no insects and brought them back to the house so she could draw them. It's so cute I have to share a few pages with you.

 Today's plan: Spend a rainy day inside.... finish a knitting project I started a couple of months ago.( Knitted and felted hearts stuffed with rice and fragrant herbs.) This was was my first felting project...the felting was easier than I thought it would be. I could have put the striped one through the wash cycle one more time I think.

And my yummy breakfast....Oatmeal with blueberries, bananas, flax meal, and maple syrup. Have a great Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Recap Wednesday

Time has gotten away from me and a week flew by. Today, that weather is back.... grey skies and there is a chill in the air. We are at home....me studying and drinking coffee (which I haven't had in over a month), my daughter playing various games with herself. The coffee has me jittery and ready to run a marathon! Sometimes, I love that feeling! I'm eating grape tomatoes that I found at Trader Joe's yesterday....they pop in my mouth with a sweetness I love. I took my last test online this morning for the classes I'm taking in Sacremento at the end of the month...one step closer to having my license!! I really miss working with patients!! When I'm working again...I will crave what I have right now...time!! Funny how we want what we don't have! So silly!

Last week we took a trip to the lake. It is 10 minutes tops by car! So blessed to have something so splendid so close to us. It was the first day of heat we've had so we put our bathing suits on with the best of intentions....but mountain lakes I have discovered are frigid cold this time of year! (Hopefully summer will be different.) My daughter didn't seem to mind though....I on the other hand...watched from the shore line!! The views all around us made my soul happy. To be able to swim in a lake again...even happier. Lakes in Florida have alligators and snakes...no thanks! My daughter seems to think all lakes have alligators...I had to convince her the only alligators in California are in the zoos! I grew up swimming in lakes in Ohio....so glad to finally pass that on to my daughter!

Saturday, the family and I drove around some neighboring cities to L.A. to look for a potential new home. We like where we are but the commute is too far for my husband.... He spends hours of his life in traffic! The little one was not thrilled....we literally spent the entire day in the van driving around. We are planning another drive this Saturday! So far we are considering Simi Valley and Pasadena. We are going to check some nearby cities to Pasadena. I never thought I would be so close to L.A. I'm a country girl so you can imagine how out of place I feel. It will be nice to have a space of our own again. Living in an apartment...well it's no fun...I miss having a yard and a kitchen with space!

I made some homemade applesauce for the first time yesterday....my daughter had some fillings done at the dentist so we bought ice cream and made applesauce for the occasion. She was brave and went to the back all by herself. You never know what will freak a kid out....I was pleasantly surprised when she came back out and the assistant said she handled it well...she didn't like the noise but who does? The recipe I used is easy and very good! Try it.....I made mine in a slow cooker for 4 hours...I tripled the recipe with great success. Next time I will use less cinnamon and add a pinch of cloves and allspice. I'll use a different apple as well. The apples I bought at the local grocery store weren't the best.

And, before I forget....my homemade shampoo results. I wasn't overly thrilled with the results of the first shampoo recipe. I found it to be too clarifying and kind of gross! My hair was very matted and felt terrible after I rinsed it out. The consistency is very watery so it was hard to use. I actually did two treatments in a row because my hair is long, thick and needed it. I had to use a conditioner afterwards....which I was trying to avoid because of my build up issue! On a positive note....since then....my hair is very shiny! I am avoiding my hot irons and only blow drying my hair until I get my hair back to healthy. I am using a store bought clarifying shampoo until I make the second recipe....and using the coconut oil for conditioner....I LOVE the coconut oil!!! I started using it on my daughter as well....the coconut oil will be part of my regime from now on! My hair is softer and shinier. And as thick as my hair is I don't have to use much at all! I'm also using Witch Hazel between washes. I spray it on at the roots and do a quick blow dry to freshen my hair...it helps with oil build up at the roots in between washes. I can go 2 days in between washes now. I'm hoping by next week my ends will look healthier. I'm trying to avoid getting inches cut off my hair to make it healthy again. I like my long hair!! So, yeah that was too much about hair, huh? Sorry!

This week I am reading about drying herbs! The herbs I am growing in containers have taken off in the past month!!! My parsley and rosemary are out of control....I think I may need bigger pots for some of them. I have limited space for my containers...which is frustrating because they are doing so well. I am afraid their limited space may kill them. I have no idea if it is too soon to start cutting stems and drying them. If anyone from the southern California area knows anything about this I would love advice! I've been unsuccessful at growing my favorite herb here....basil...any suggestions? I've killed two basil plants so far. Successes so far are of course my Italian flat leaf parsley and rosemary, also my greek and italian oregano, dill and lavendar. The Lavendar is gorgeous. I want to dry it and use it in a soap or some herb sachets I've been making. I've never made soap before. I've done a little reading about it. Can't wait to try it!

So that is my week...sort of! I think I'm driving my husband nuts....with all of my household changes...he has been a bit reluctant to change. Some pictures (click for better quality) from the past week, recipes from the last week and a good song:

Trader Joe's Egg Pappardelle with Quick Bolognese Meat Sauce

8 oz. TJ's Egg Pappardelle pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups marinara sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over moderate heat. Add beef and saute until lightly browned and crumbly. Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are transparent. Drain fat and return mixture to pan. Add red wine and marinara. Stir and simmer 10-15 minutes to blend flavors. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to cooking instructions. Drain well, add pasta to sauce. Heat pasta and sauce together on low heat 1-2 minutes.
*And add some freshly grated parmesan!!! Oh, and drink the rest of the wine!! Quick and yummy!

Applesauce....see link in blog for recipe

And this blog wouldn't be complete without music:
Remember the Squirrel Nut Zippers.....I love this song "It Ain't You"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kitchen Wednesday

The weather today is just amazing...the kind of day when you open up the house and breathe in the fresh air. Totally invigorating. My daughter and I ran our errands today (post office and grocery store) and made a list of fun things to do in the kitchen today. She helped me make fresh guacomole. We picked up the best avacodos at Trader Joe's over the weekend....when I cut them open today it was LOVE! So yeah...we tried this guacomole recipe and I have to say....very good. My very first job at 16 I worked in the kitchen at Chi Chi's El Pronto and made fresh guacamole every day...hated it then....love it now! Funny how your palate changes over time. Also, something I never would have tried at 16 is the recipe I found on Sensible Living's Blog that she posted on March 9th. I thought this would be a great cookie recipe for my 6yr. old to make. We added chocolate chips, cranberries and ground up walnuts to the recipe...healthy, easy and good. And, she loved making them!!

So, in my effort to be more "green" (I hate that word), I researched making shampoo and conditioner. The conditioner I found to be super easy....something I already had in my kitchen pantry....virgin coconut oil. There are plenty of YouTube videos about how to apply it...pretty basic though. I found two shampoo recipes I wanted to make. One we made today....I am a little skeptical about trying it now that's it's made...only because of the way it looks and it smells a little weird...not that appealing. I shall try it tomorrow morning and let you all know what I think. The recipe can be found here. It's a clarifying shampoo because I have been pretty harsh on my hair. The next recipe I know I will like better because it utilizes herbs I find appealing. Take a look.
Have any of you made homemade shampoos and had success?

And, because it's my mission in life to photograph everything I do now:

 The guacomole recipe would be even more exceptional had I had fresh cilantro but I didn't...can't have it all, right?

*Things that I have not done today or will do today: Make the bed, laundry, vacuuming, pay bills.....sometimes you just have to do things you enjoy and forget that other stuff until tomorrow... xoxo peace

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I love you spring

Flowers are everywhere right now. This is my first spring in California and frankly the weather has been crappy...but today the weather heard my pleas of needing sunshine. My daughter and I went down to the park to kick the soccer ball around. I snuck away a couple of times to snap some shots of the flowers!
These orange flowers...which I embarrassingly don't know the name of...are growing in random spots all over the hillsides...lovely!

We saw many ladybugs today...and none of them had spots. Unusual and curious.

And this look says it all....put that damn camera away mom!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Soap Box moment...sorta

I am blessed/cursed with time until I take my boards in August to get my license to work here. Blessed because I have time to focus on my daughter and blessed because I have time to be creative, to take walks, to play with the camera, to make great menus, to knit and just discover myself again. But, time can be a curse...because I THINK to much when I have "time"...about a lot of stuff. And, when I think to much it can be a bad thing for my mental state. One activity I have been doing is watching documentaries....don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful way to learn about the world, but I am steaming mad right now. I feel helpless in such a Corporate dominated world. I have learned so much about food from watching documentaries which has led me to research, research, research...and discovering how scary it is that for so many years I've been poisoning my body. Our government seems to be o.k. with that. It infuriates me that I have paid thousands upon thousands of dollars in taxes to live in a better country only to be lied to over and over and over again. And robbed. They have robbed me. I used to feel safe in the United States...I wasn't scared of the people who shared this country with me and maybe it was because I was younger and more naive but there is a constant negative energy all around me now. When I venture out to public places....I can feel it. People are rude and I suspect it is because they are tired of being lied to, they have lost their trust in society. When I look around me...I see people buying up everything around them.....to feel better and more powerful than the person next to them. Really??? Really? I hate that corporations have manipulated the human mind to believe MORE is happiness. How fucking sick! No wonder people have addictions. It really gets me down. I hate that I too have been guilty at times of consuming too much....thinking it will make me happy to have new/more "stuff". I've had enough of this way of thinking and living in my life. I want a place that is stable, peaceful, and respectful of the environment. I am changing...definitely a blessing! Now, how do I get the rest of the people to change? This is quite the dilemma.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's all in the Salad

Ok....I actually cleaned the casa today...then I ventured into the kitchen! And this is what happened: (And as always click the pictures for better detail)

Who knew sweet italian sausage and apples create sweet magic in your mouth. I've been wanting to try this salad I found in Gourmet Nutrition for awhile but, was skeptical since it has apples and sausage in it... so excited to say it's fantastic and I have a new salad to share with friends and family! And my 6 yr. old daughter ate it. Easy, yummy and nutritious. I paired it with a spicy apple vinaigrette dressing that I found in the same cookbook! The consistancy of the dressing threw me off a bit but it tasted great. So, for something new and different try this:
Spinach leaves, 1/4 cup cooked quinoa, about a whole apple diced into small pieces, 2 sweet italian turkey sausages cooked and cut into pieces, about a handful of crushed walnuts and low fat feta cheese....and add whatever dressing you like...something sweet would go well with it or a balsamic. The dressing I made was 1 apple cored and skinned, 1/2 cup of walnut oil, 1/4 cup apple cidar vinegar, paprika, cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste then puree in the blender. Chill dressing before serving.

The biscuits....well not healthy. And it came from a box that I ordered through Tastefully Simple. I could have eaten all of them...but I stopped after 3! Shhhhh.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Another hiking post

I live near some great hiking trails...thank goodness or I would have been locked up by now. I was feeling really down and out today so, I took my daughter on a hike. I've lived here now for almost 5 months and the only thing that has kept me sane is photography and hiking....well, I'm exaggerating a bit but, it has been therapeutic. I feel very isolated here not having any friends to do stuff with. Getting my license to work isn't happening fast enough for me. Anyway, I won't go into all that so here are some of my favorite photos from today's hike : Click to enlarge photos...makes a huge difference!

Sprawl II by Arcade Fire

They heard me singing and they told me to stop,
Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock,
These days, my life, I feel it has no purpose,
But late at night the feelings swim to the surface.
Cause on the surface the city lights shine,
They're calling at me, "come and find your kind."

Sometimes I wonder if the world's so small,
That we can never get away from the sprawl,
Living in the sprawl,
Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains,
And there's no end in sight,
I need the darkness someone please cut the lights.

We rode our bikes to the nearest park,
Sat under the swings, we kissed in the dark,
We shield our eyes from the police lights,
We run away, but we don't know why,
And like a mirror these city lights shine,
They're screaming at us, "we don't need your kind."

Sometimes I wonder if the world's so small,
That we can never get away from the sprawl,
Living in the sprawl,
Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains,
And there's no end in sight,
I need the darkness someone please cut the lights.

They heard me singing and they told me to stop,
Quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock.

Sometimes I wonder if the world's so small,
Can we ever get away from the sprawl?
Living in the sprawl,
Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains,
And there's no end in sight,
I need the darkness someone please cut the lights

*I posted this today because this is how I feel about the crap that surrounds me today!! I just love these lyrics and watching Regine Chassagne perform them!! Wish I wasn't surrounded by Corporate crap and bombarded by advertising daily!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another food post

I bought these today...and suddenly I was craving chocolate in a bad way. I started thinking how wonderful they would be in chocolate cups with cream and chocolate....then I looked in the fridge and realized I had philly cream cheese and sour cream so I came up with this....a cheesecake with dark chocolate chips mixed into the filling...I cooked for 40min. then, let it rest in the oven for an hour....I placed blackberries, lemon zest and drizzled more chocolate on top....I devoured my dinner just to have a piece...and let me tell you......it did not disappoint!! The picture of the finished product is before I put the lemon zest on it...it was a last minute decision!

So this is what I used to make this:

Crust is 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs mixed with 1/2 cup of melted butter and 2tbsp of sugar....mix and then form to bottom and sides of pie dish. Place in freezer while you make the filling.

Filling is 8oz of softened philly cream cheese, 1 egg, 1/4 cup sour cream, about 1tsp of vanilla extract and 1/4 cup of sugar ....mix well with blender, then mix in about a handful of chocolate chips. Pour filling on top of crust....bake in a 300 degree oven for about 40min....then turn oven off and leave for another hour inside. Take out of the oven and let cool on a rack for about 20-30min. Then decorate to your liking. For a normal cheesecake I double the filling but I didn't want to take away from blackberries and chocolate so I split the cheesecake filling recipe in half!! It makes a very lovely treat! Seriously....make it!