Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Beginnings of a Garden

As of this morning, I've officially begun the hands-on work of my garden planning. For the past year or so, Cameron has been reading into, absorbing, and investigating all the information he can get his hands on about organic gardening. We ordered seeds from here: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and they arrived the other day. So now the garden can actually take shape. This week, we plan to start our first batch of indoor plantings. That will be easy, because this early in the season, we're limited to what we need to start. We'll start our onions and asparagus for now. March and April will be the busiest with gardening and planting, as we'll be digging the garden itself and trying to keep track of what goes where and when. What a lovely experiment and challenge to embark on together! I'm so grateful for Cam's willingness to dive into this endeavor with as much (read: more) intention and determination than I've been able to muster up until this point.

Today, with all of our plans and hopes and garden dreams swirling about, I knew that organization needed happen before chaos took over. So I updated our Home Binder (more on that at another time, but basically, to keep our ideas and goals in order, we have a binder with projects, ideas, etc etc listed) to include a gardening section. We'll have a new section for each year we garden. We'll "journal" informally as we go through each step, so that we can easily look back and see what we've done and what we need to change in the future. And this blog will house pictures and garden ramblings as well, because let's face it, the garden will most likely be our pride and joy (and possibly our biggest failure) this summer.

~*How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence.*~

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


It's common to think of a new year in terms of "resolutions." A new year brings a clean slate. It's thought of as a fresh start, and a good excuse for a least some amount of thoughtful retrospection on one's life, endeavors, and goals. For me, though, a new year is more of a continuation than a resolve. Rather than make those age-old New Years Resolutions, I tend to think in terms of changes I can make to promote my philosophy on life. Now, if only I could narrow down a succinct life-philosophy. Ha.

In general, as evidenced by this blog, (and thanks in large part to my mother) I've decided I need to strive for balance...and learn from my blunders. So, learning, growing, and deliberation have become defining words in my life. With those words lurking around every thought, plan, and idea I had, I was practically forced to consider what parts of my life are in need of better balance, intention, and investigation.

So, here's what changes are in store for the new year around here.

First, our TV is gone. We'd been tossing around the idea since we got married. That's a lot of debate for 2.5 years! Well it's been a big change, let me tell you. Not that we watched a lot of TV, but I know we still managed to watch too much, as my overall productivity has greatly increased since said tele was banished to the basement. Yeah yeah, we didn't actually throw it out. Baby steps. Now, instead of collapsing in exhaustion in front of sitcoms at the end of a long day, I'm forced to do more productive things. Things such as shoot the breeze with Hubs, get caught up on some long-negelected chore (our fridge is now spotless! Hurray! :D), exercise, read, craft, or any number of beneficial activities.

Second, we now have big, yet realistic plans for our property. Putting more thought into how my time is spent, I'm endeavoring to tackle all the "finishing touches" our house still needs. Curtains, unpacked boxes, wall art -- I will not let another year go by without finishing these details! Trust me, I'm frustrated they've sat undone this long. Also, in regards to our property, we're planning to undertake a huge project this spring: a garden. The seeds have been ordered. Now, a few supplies are left to be gathered, and overall, I'm feeling really optimistic about this pursuit. As long as most of the plants grow, I'll be happy. Then again, that might be asking for a lot. We'll find out!

Third, and perhaps most importantly for me and my walk with Christ, I want to invest more time and effort into my hobbies, and into living. So, I'm going part-time at work. And I'm going to be crafting more, cooking more, working out more, reading more, ministering to others more, learning about my Lord more, and just living more. I will be "sucking the marrow out of life," so to speak. Because who doesn't want to carpe diem? I was challenged years ago when I heard the phrase "do something every day that scares you." I'm kinda just a little scared to even attempt that feat! But hey, while I'm living, might as well live on the edge a little, right?

My "fear" in today's activities, for example, includes making homemade yogurt for the first time. I know I know, not a huge scary event. But I HATE when I fail at things (especially recipes), so this is a bit of a fearful afternoon as I wait for the results of my curdling milk. The point is, I don't want to feel restricted in my intentional living just because of fear. The hard part is, fear certainly isn't always gripping or terrorizing or obvious. Fear, for me, typically just slips in unnoticed when I try to make a simple decision. It tells me I might not make the right one. It sits quietly on my shoulder and twinges here or there as the unknown unfolds before me each day. It often looks innocent enough, that I might not even know it's running my life. It stands proudly between me and my relationship with Jesus, but I'm too scared to kick it out of the way. Funny.

Yes, life will see some changes this year (and it already has!). Probably more changes than I want, really. For the worst, or for the best, change is as inevitable as the fear and apprehension that accompany it. And that's why this new year will require more balance and produce more blunders than ever.

He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson*~

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The holidays have officially worn me down. And they're not even over yet, technically. I'm sick, overwhelmed, and really didn't accomplish half of what I thought I could. Some of that is due to a family emergency in the beginning of the month. That set me back a week, and I guess I just never recovered. But being sick right now has forced me to just lay here (with disgusting floors, a pile of laundry, gifts all over, and a general feeling of disorganization) and think about what really matters. I feel so cliche saying it, but taking time to smell the roses is really what makes the difference many times. The dreariness of winter doesn't help my case, so it's even more crucial for me to find, and smell, the "roses" of life.

So, as disorganized and disgusting as it might get when life's overwhelming, I'm so grateful to have a "rose" of a house to take care of, to stay warm in, and to serve others with.

As crafty and stubborn as he can be, I love our little pup and all his quirks. Right now, this "rose" is curled up at my hip (half on top of me, of course), with his head on my keyboard, and his little eyes drooping because it's obviously time for an afternoon nap.

Even when the day to day gets, well, day to dayish, I have a partner and friend by my side whom I love with all my heart. Cameron makes my days extraordinary no matter what. He's the rose to my thorns. :)

My family has often been the cause of stress and dysfunction in my life, but they mean the world to me. They are a garden of roses, really, and when all the colors and scents are taken in, it can be overwhelmingly wonderful.

Some other "roses" that get me through each day: friends checking in, my coworkers, tea, great food, thoughts of the future, lists, chapstick, candles, wind chimes outside the backdoor, awesome slippers, and the "garden" goes on and on.

*~But he that dares not grasp the thorn
Should never crave the rose
~Anne Bronte~*

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Sure Cure

Fall is my favorite season. But then, all too quickly, my least favorite time of year hits as quickly and as forcefully as the gust of wind which knocks the last of the orange and red leaves off of our trees. I hate the transition between fall and winter. I call it "winterumn." It's like autumn and winter swirl together in a gust of frigid air and leaf dust and make my life miserable. It's an interim. It's blustery. It's dark. It's often wet. And it's just dreary in every way. All the color seems to be sucked out of the landscape. Just so, the life seems to be sucked out of me when I can't feel revived by nature. For me, the sure cure for the winterumn blues is to turn my attention to the flavors and smells I can create to lift my spirits. So, I cook. I bake. I by the spiciest smelling candles I can find. And I hunker down and consider the extra effort (and extra pounds) all for the sake of hibernation.

If you find yourself hibernating with me, you NEED to make these bluster-proof muffins as the ultimate tummy-comfort. They smell terrific baking. They are the moistest, most decadent muffins I've ever made. Even with the addition of some whole wheat flour, you can't even tell they're semi-healthy. I promise! They're perfect straight-up, with no need for butter or topping of any sort. Happy change of seasons, once again.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used half whole wheat flour)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini (I used 2c 'cause that's what I had on hand! Turned out REALLLLY moist....almost gooey, which we LOVED.)
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate
chips (or more...hehe)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Combine the egg, oil, milk, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in zucchini, chocolate chips and walnuts. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done. Mine took a little longer, actually. Also makes GREAT mini-muffins.

Voila! Instant pick-me-up. The best anti-depressant I've found for winterumn! What helps you beat the winter blues?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Latest and Greatest

Yesterday, I pulled off my first ever surprise party. I threw one for my dear Hubby's birthday, as he had never had a surprise party thrown for him. It was quite the Fiesta, for sure, as the theme was Mexican. It's his favorite food group, after all. ;) His local family and many of his closest friends made it out for the bash. The food all turned out deliciously. The games were a hoot. And, the best part was, he was legitimately surprised!

Today, I'm reveling (yes, reveling) in the aftermath. I've re-swept the house, done the dishes, started the wash pile of doom, torn down the decor, and even hand-scrubbed the kitchen floor. The dog is even wiped out. He went from the Mexican jumping bean of the party, to my little kidney bean (read: curled in a ball) on the top of the couch cushions. And it's enjoyable to me. It's a moment of pure balance. The fun, work, and pleasure of the weekend all produces satisfaction for me. It's rare I feel this way, so before I head back to work tomorrow, I'm reveling. Now, for some pictures! Enjoy.


Fiesta time!

Some of the decor.



Fun times, fun times!

Monday, October 18, 2010


This month has been so fun. Fall is here (fun!), birthdays abound (SO fun!), I've spent much quality time with friends (funfunfun!), AND we got a doggie (FUNNN!!!!!!!). Heeeere's Henry:

He's a mut. We think maybe German shepherd and beagle. He's 3 years old. He's only about 30lbs. If you know either my husband or myself AT ALL you know our penchant for large dogs, and you can understand how this size dog is a big stretch for us as pet owners. Too bad he's too cute to resist. He's very very smart, and has already proven to be a good hunting dog for small game. (Don't worry, he hasn't actually killed anything. I don't think he has the heart to. ;-) ) He sleeps in a little ball because he gets cold. Observe:

He adores rawhide bones bigger than his body. And he eats them with great fervor. Observe:

But overall, he's a delicate little thing. All his actions are gentle and meek, it seems. We're constantly laughing at his mannerisms. Like, how he'll stare you down and quietly whimper until you let him hop into your lap while you watch TV. Or, how he'll sweetly paw at the bed covers letting us know he wants to be snuggled in under them. His little face and sad eyes are so very hard to resist. But don't let them fool you! He barks like a big dog, and plays rough and tough with the best of them. Now, if only I could convince him that he's not a cat...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Recipe Worth Trying

It's quick. It's super easy. It epitomizes Fall. And it's SO very delish! It's (*dundundun*) Butternut Squash Pasta! It is a recipe most definitely worth trying, so I'm going to share it here. I've adapted this particular recipe from http://thefrontierkitchen.com/ just to liven the flavors up a bit. Because lively food is what I'm all about. :)

Butternut Squash Pasta Amazingness:

Serves 4
~1 lb. pasta, preferably whole wheat (whole wheat penne worked GREAT for this!)
~2 cups roasted butternut squash (cut squash in half, place cut-side up on baking sheet. Drizzle w/ EVOO and sprinkle w/ salt and pepper. Roast in 350F oven for like 45-60min., until knife easily inserts into the flesh.)
~1 pint heavy cream (yes, you are required to use cream. Trust me, it's for your own good.)
~1/2 c. (or more!) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (and I like to throw in a few Tbsps of whatever other cheese I might have on hand, such as Cheddar or Jack. Makes things a little creamier and, of course, cheesier!)
~4 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
~1-2 cloves minced garlic
~sea salt and black pepper to taste

In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, combine squash, cream, Parm/cheese, garlic, and 2 Tbsp. of the basil. Blend until creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain cooked pasta. Toss butternut squash sauce with pasta. Heat through. Garnish with remaining basil. Extra delish if you throw some grilled chicken and extra cheese on top!

SO easy, as you can see! Makes a great big batch, is SUPER hearty, and totally makes eating squash the best experience you'll ever have. Next time I make this, I might have to get a little rediculous and serve the butternut squash sauce over spaghetti squash. Look out!

I'm always on the look-out for quick and yummy Fall recipes. Feel free to share!

*~If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. —J. R. R. Tolkien~*