Monday, October 31, 2011

Crepe cake, or gateau de crepes

Let's not talk about how long it's been since I've posted a recipe, OK? (Crazy long, that's how long.) I'm calling "bygones" on the recent past, and have made some new year (post-birthday, anyway) resolutions about doing better in that regard. Remember that old tag line to Sweet Tea&Sunshine? "A little food, a little gratitude." Well, it's been plenty of gratitude, and most food happening offline... time to get back to posting recipes! I've got plenty in my drafts folder, for sure; just need to get my act together and turn pictures and recipes into actual posts. Wish me luck!

What better way to get back into the groove than to post my birthday dessert? Given the fact that it was crowd-sourced and all, right?! It's hard not to be pleased with what gets picked when you're the one putting all the options out in the first place, but I was super-excited to get to make a crepe cake again. Sometimes you just need the excuse to pull out the sugar and flour and eggs, am I right?

I turned to a food blogging professional (Smitten Kitchen) for the recipe, and found it rather different than ones I've used in the past. The crepe batter was quite a bit thinner, which took me a little to get used to but worked out just fine. And the custard was folded into whipped cream, which I don't remember doing in the past... again, turned out wonderfully. It's no surprise that this is definitely a make-again!

Gâteau de Crêpes
New York Times, 5/15/05, who adapted the batter from Joy of Cooking and the pastry cream from Desserts, by Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan.

Serves 10. (Smitten Kitchen thinks it serves way more than 10, which I would mostly concur with. I think we ended up with 16 slices, at least...)

For the crepe batter:
6 tablespoons butter
3 cups milk
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
7 tablespoons sugar
Pinch salt

For the vanilla pastry cream:
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
3 1/2 tablespoons butter

For assembly:
Corn oil
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar or more
3 Tbsp Kirsch (didn't use, not fond of the flavor)
Confectioners’ sugar

The day before, make the crepe batter and the pastry cream.

Batter: In a small pan, cook the butter until brown like hazelnuts. Set aside. In another small pan, heat the milk until steaming; allow to cool for 10 minutes. In a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter. Pour into a container with a spout, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Pastry cream: Bring the milk with the vanilla bean (and scrapings) to a boil, then set aside for 10 minutes; remove bean. Fill a large bowl with ice and set aside a small bowl that can hold the finished pastry cream and be placed in this ice bath.

In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then place pan over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes. Press the pastry cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the small bowl. Set the bowl in the ice bath and stir until the temperature reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Stir in the butter. When completely cool, cover and refrigerate.

Assemble the cake the next day: Bring the batter to room temperature. Place a nonstick or seasoned 9-inch crepe pan over medium heat. Swab the surface with the oil, then add about 3 tablespoons batter and swirl to cover the surface. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 minute, then carefully lift an edge and flip the crepe with your fingers. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds. Flip the crepe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until you have 20 perfect crepes.

Pass the pastry cream through a sieve once more (didn't do, worked out fine. I mean, how strained does a custard need to be?). Whip the heavy cream with the tablespoon sugar. It won’t hold peaks. Fold it into the pastry cream.

Lay 1 crepe on a cake plate. Using an icing spatula, completely cover with a thin layer of pastry cream (about 1/4 cup). Cover with a crepe and repeat to make a stack of 20, with the best-looking crepe on top. Chill for at least 2 hours. Set out for 30 minutes before serving. If you have a blowtorch for creme brulee, sprinkle the top crepe with 2 tablespoons sugar and caramelize with the torch; otherwise, dust with confectioners’ sugar (I used creme brulee sugar, see below). Slice like a cake.

I love a good excuse to get out the blowtorch! Husband walked into the kitchen and said, "Have you been taking tools out of the shop?" No, honey, that torch is ALL MINE!

Since so many of my dear friends and readers know of my hazelnut/Nutella love (there was even a jar on our front porch the night of my birthday, thank you sweet Sara), there had been much encouragement toward a Nutella crepe cake... I could have gone there, easily, with some Nutella folded into the custard while it was still warm--I've done that many times and it works wonderfully. But, as strange luck would have it, when I was making the custard, there was no Nutella to be found in my pantry. The horrors!

But I did have a lovely bar of hazelnut chocolate from Laura's recent Europe trip up in my office (where I keep my secret stash, of course!) and I whizzed that up in the food processor with a little hot cream and voila! Hazelnut chocolate sauce... perfect for pouring over and enjoying. The crepe cake itself is not overly sweet. The sauce was WAY sweet, so just a touch went a long way, and it was heaven.

It was indeed the perfect ending to a wonderful birthday day with my guys!

Pin It

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

Hello Friday night.
Hello end of another week.
Hello beginning of rest and relaxation.
Hello beginning of my 44th year. (Yikes.)
Hello November (more or less).

A quick, good week, other than a tummy bug that has plagued the household a bit more than we'd like. Still, even with the bug, so so much to be grateful for.

Still eating produce from the garden, and it's almost November. How is that possible? Also still enjoying fairly pleasant fall days, with a touch of frost in the mornings... so grateful for our autumn days. (Especially when I see what the Northeast has in store this weekend. Yikes.)

Grateful for a lovely and stretched out birthday week (or two, to be honest...). I have such wonderful family, and pretty amazing friends too. Thank you all for the birthday good wishes and affections.

My men. All I really need to feel grateful is my guys. And having them here and celebratory with me, just makes the weekend all frosting. Well, all cake AND all frosting. We even stepped out for a couple of late-afternoon errands (bold moves for those with a tummy bug, in my opinion, but we're nothing if not bold--and on the mend), which is incredibly rare around here. Ah, the family that grocery shops together...

I'm grateful for late-season figs. (I'm sure that shocks you.) I had to pick through them pretty carefully to get the good ones, but it was worth it--yum. I'm also grateful for all the fall flavors--I'm on a butternut squash jag at the moment and finally made butternut squash mac-n-cheese last night. (Will post, I swear. I know I've been pathetically pathetic with the recipes of late...) It was delightful. I had some of that today for lunch, with additional roasted butternut thrown in. Yum. And pomegranates... those are here, and wonderful. And artichokes. And black grapes. Good thing I'm an all-season food girl, eh?

As we're all relaxing in one room together on this Friday night, I am reminded how very much I enjoy the early sunsets of winter (on the weekend. I feel the need to state that caveat!). Peaceful Friday nights. The fireplace. The hot tub. Supper together as a family. Reading. Catching up on my online feeds. Writing my grateful list. Ahhh. I am very grateful for a day of rest, indeed.

I went on a crochet jag on Pinterest this week. Decided I needed to go check out some of the people who were following me, and browse their boards... and how! And you know what I'm most grateful for? People who take the time to turn their projects into tutorials--that is no small task, to say the least. I have learned so much by crocheters putting their instructions online, it's just fabulous. Here are a few of my favorites, lately, in the crochet world.

angrybirds (hats for Christmas, Goerlitz Jr. clan?!)

I will stop there, but believe me... I could show you fun crochet stuff ALL NIGHT. Silly, crazy, yes. But fun and colorful, for sure.

Remember how I've mentioned that I have been feeling a little less than inspired in the kitchen lately? I think I figured out why: haven't been browsing my cookbooks enough. Rather a "doh!" moment... what seems to inspire me and feeling like cooking new and different things (or even busting out the old favorites) is to look at recipes, be reminded of dishes, etc. I think there's a bit of a difference between online and a book, for me. I sat down with a couple of my favorite cookbooks the other day--you know, the ones that have gorgeous pictures in addition to yummy recipes--and definitely felt inspired to cook more than I have in ages. I'm very grateful for that. I don't like it when I'm feeling uninspired and blah in the kitchen, no way.

I am grateful, on this eve of my birthday, for another year of living.
I know too many people who have had illness or passed away in recent years to take that for granted, ever. (I have a faint memory of being young--like, really young--and taking for granted that I'd be around another year. The folly of youth, eh?) Physical health, mental health, spiritual health, emotional health... it all matters, and I appreciate the chance to have had another 365-day spin around the sun to work on my stuff. I am blessed.

And I'm grateful for you.
If you've wandered here accidentally, or you're here because you actually know me, either way, I'm grateful. For your encouragement in these three years of blogging, for your emails and Facebook posts and letting me know when I see you that you like this or that, or you tried this recipe or that recipe, thank you. I really had no idea when I started what this blogging thing would be like, could be like... and it's been a most enjoyable pastime, to say the least!

I hope your weekend is filled with joy and love. What are you grateful for this week? Tell me! (Please.)


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday 13: Gifts to myself of the quote variety

Seemed a quote-y kind of week, as I thought about it... Nothing like being poised on the brink of a new year to make one reflect a bit and plot to do better, be better, in the coming year.

Here are 13 quotes that, as I went through my "stack," stood out to me as little gifts to myself this birthday. I may have posted a few of them in the past, but if so, that just means they really speak to me!

1. We are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us. -C. S. Lewis

2. Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from. -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

3. We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn. -Henry David Thoreau

4. Let go of the idea that the path will lead you to your goal. The truth is that with each step we take, we arrive. -Paulo Coelho

5. If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you. -A.A. Milne

6.  The obstacle is the path. -Zen Proverb

7. The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers. -M. Scott Peck

8. At the root of virtually all spiritual practice is the notion of forgiveness. Think about every single person who has ever harmed you, cheated you, defrauded you or said unkind things about you. Your experience of them is nothing more than a thought that you carry around with you. These thoughts of resentment, anger and hatred represent slow, debilitating energies that will disempower you. If you could release them, you would know more peace. -Wayne Dyer

9. The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem. -Theodore Rubin

10. May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ. -Ephesians 3:18-19

11. The most astonishing thing about miracles is that they happen. -G.K. Chesterton

12. A heart that is light lives long. -Irish Proverb

13. I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity. -Gilda Radner

Which quote is your favorite? Tell me! I have a hard time picking; they each hold a unique appeal to me...

For other Thursday 13 participants, go here.

And because I can feel you are just on pins and needles to know which treat I am making for my birthday (voting options here), without further ado: Between the comments here and on Facebook it was quite close between the Nutella Icebox Cake and the Crepe Cake... and the Crepe Cake won out. Because there was no clear winner in which kind of Crepe Cake, I suppose I will decide that when I am actually making the custard! Thanks to all who voted, I enjoyed seeing what you picked.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Midweek reminder: The future is wide open

At least once a year, I imagine that I am about to die. Looking back as truthfully as I can at my entire life, I give full attention to the things I wish hadn’t occurred. Recognizing these mistakes honestly but without self-recrimination, I try to rejoice in the innate wisdom that allows me to see so bravely, and I feel compassion for how I so frequently messed up. Then I can go forward. The future is wide open, and what I do with it is up to me. -Pema Chodron

And because I wouldn't be me if I didn't juxtapose something thoughtful with something silly, I got an early birthday card yesterday. It read: I used to live each day as if it were my last, but people got tired of me screaming, "I'm going to die! I"m going to die!" It's your birthday, be as dramatic as you want. (Thanks for the laugh, Nancy.)

So, do with those two paragraphs what you will.

I'm off to do something with my future!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Common Miracles, Week 24

 “Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.”
– Pema Chodron

Last week was a no-show for me with the Common Miracles project. That bummed me a bit; being a person of routines and grooves (bet you hadn't noticed that), when a groove is gotten out of, it saddens me... but, when the internet's down, the internet's down, right?! What are you going to do? I know, post from my iPad, but I have yet to really feel the love with that process, so let's just say the internet was down, OK?

Meanwhile, this week I'm back, and ready to roll with Week 24.

And I'm feeling the list form... common miracles abound!

Sunshine. There was a promise of freezing, or at least frost, so Seth and I hauled in a bunch of late produce yesterday afternoon, in the sunshine. I got so warm, I couldn't believe it was October. We picked eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes (a lot of them green...), potatoes, cucumbers... I was a little surprised at what all we unearthed! (And sure enough, this morning the world was frosted. Quite prettily, but it was indeed the first morning I said COLD! It's COLD.)

Pretty yarn that is fun to crochet. I'm on a little variegated jag at the moment...

An owl that sits on our highest roof peak and welcomes us home in the twilight. I love seeing Owen!

Beautiful autumn colors. While we certainly don't live in the most colorful part of the country by any means, there are still a few yellows and oranges and reds to liven up the landscape.

Being in the middle. I never thought I would really say YEAH for middle age (it just sounds soooooo boring), but just yesterday I witnessed some chutzpah of youth (no, not Seth--at least not this instance!), and some silliness a bit older than myself as well (no, Ma, not YOU), and I thought--boy, I'm glad to be where I am.

Small projects that you can start and finish quickly. I don't mind longer projects to chunk away at, but every once in awhile, the instant gratification of a quick project just feels so good!

Words. You know, the difference between the writing that makes you say "yeah, that!" and the other, where you shake your head... I love words. And I especially like them when they get put together in sentences that resonate.

Audiobooks. I am in love with the audiobook. Listening and doing something else too, at once? Yes, please. Guess who downloaded Steve Jobs yesterday, hot off the presses? That would be me. And who just about (well, kinda did) fell asleep listening to Timothy Keller's King's Cross with Seth last night? Yep. Me.

Sleep itself is such a beautiful miracle. Husband and I were talking about how we (well, maybe mostly I) wish you could build up a sleep bank, so that a big weekend of sleeping could take one through a week of less-that-stellar sleep... just doesn't seem to work that way. You can catch up, but to get ahead on sleep? What a dream!

Having the Common Miracle concept in mind as I go through my week is really helpful in seeing what's going on around me through more grateful eyes. The pause-and-reflect mindset embues even the smallest things--leaves, the breeze, my son's smile--with a new appreciation.

To see how the Common Miracles project started, visit Chel's blog.

And have a great day! If you haven't voted for my birthday treat yet, please do! I haven't done an official polling, but I think something hazelnut-y is in the's a bit of a split between crepe cake and the icebox cake, so weigh in!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Get out the vote: Crowd-sourcing birthday treats!

It's a big week ahead around here!

First off, my birthday's coming up. I know, commence with the streamers and balloons (not) and general princess-like behavior (double not)... 

Second, and of almost equal hoopla-do, it's Sweet Tea & Sunshine's birthday--three years old! It's been three quick years since friend Jen encouraged me to pick up my blogging "pen" and put it to "paper," and it's been quite a fun ride since then.

But for the birthday, I always spend a little time pondering what dessert I would like. (Please tell me other people do this? Or am I a freak of nature?) I know, cake is most traditional, and for a few years husband quite sweetly bought me the most beautiful cakes from Dean&DeLuca. But the past few years I've said, oh skip that hassle and expense (I think I said it more gently than that), I'll make something yummy, since I kinda like doing that sort of thing anyway. He objects, thinking somehow I'm not supposed to make my own treat, but I call silly on that idea. And, he lets me have my way, in this matter. What's the saying? Happy wife, happy life? He's a wise man.

So the first year of the blog (2008) I made galaktoboureko. That heavenly Greek custard dessert has been a big favorite of mine for many years, from first bite.

For 2009, it was a pile of cream puffs (choux pastry with custard), which have been high on my list since childhood. (Amazing how much Seth has grown in two years, eh? A-maze-ing.)

Last year is oddly fuzzy in my brain, but I think I made some spice cupcakes and mini-cakes in a new cake form I'd been given, but can't find a post or pictures of it, and apparently I was in a quandary about what to make last year too! (I do remember that my parents were here to celebrate with us, so it was obviously a lovely weekend!)

This year, the dessert question continues. I don't make cakes and sweet stuff a lot (despite what some folks think with my number of dessert posts) and so I do want to "make it count" for my birthday. It will be a lovely celebration with my men, so I suppose I should take some of their tastes into account, but honestly I probably won't (much)... when their birthdays roll around it's all about their tastebuds, right? (And I'll make sure there's something around that floats their respective boats, of course.) But the actual dessert? That can be all about me!

That's where you come in, pretty please.

I was browsing through my Pinterest-saved sweet recipes and thinking about what I would like to make, and really couldn't make up my mind. I was thinking to myself that Pinterest should have some sort of voting mechanism so people could weigh in and give opinions, and then I realized (doh!) that I have my own little voting place--between here and a targeted Facebook post or two, I should get a pretty decent crowd-sourced birthday dessert, don't you think?

1. Macarons. I have been wanting to make macarons for a very long time and have been procrastinating. There's a piece of me that's intimidated, and another than pooh-poohs that notion, but for some reason it just hasn't happened yet. My main concern with making macarons is that, like cream puffs, they don't really resemble a dessert or birthday cake, so you just pile them in a bowl and sing Happy Birthday? I guess...

2. Galaktoboureko. I loved it in 2008, and haven't made it since, seriously. So I'd be happy to recycle that concept.

3. Or, for something new, there's this cake: Nutella Icebox Cake. How amazing does that sound? Some of my favorite flavors--hazelnut, chocolate, graham crackers--and it even slightly resembles a cake! Bonus. Double bonus for the fact that it looks way heck easier than macarons.

4. Also in the cake realm is the Peanut Butter Sheet Cake. Hoo-hah. Or however Al Pacino said it in Scent of a Woman. It's a Pioneer Woman recipe, so you know it is filled with all things buttery and good.

5. It's also been awhile since I've made a crepe cake. I LOVE crepe cakes... and if I made a hazelnut one, that could be heavenly too... though even just regular vanilla custard is lovely enough. Hmmm. (The one on the upper right is tiramisu--that sounds pretty good too, doesn't it?!)

6. And then, there are the velvets: Red and Blue. (Why isn't there a Green Velvet cake? Surely that should exist, don't you think?). A true layered cake almost seems truly birthday-like...

7. I've enjoyed leche cake ever since I first tried it a few years ago... I usually think of it as a summer cake with fresh berries and fruit, but I could wrap my mind around a fall version...

8. It's been so long since I've made a cheesecake. My very favorite cheesecake recipe is the Three Cities of Spain Cheesecake from Epicurious--I've made this recipe more times than I can count, but not recently... Does a cheesecake count for a birthday? I think it could. If I wanted to step it up a notch in the cheesecake department, take a look at this creature: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cake. Huh? You've got your layer cake (chocolate), you've got your cheesecake (plain), you've got your frosting (peanut butter). Wow.

OK, so, too many options? One that stands out, head and shoulders, and screams "Sher!" to you?

Please tell me. If you've never commented before, or you've gotten forgetful about commenting or (more likely) you've been too busy to comment for a while... vote, please!

I usually have pretty strong opinions on stuff and the idea of crowd-sourcing anything kind of makes me smile to myself, but in writing this down and sifting through my sweet-tooth desires, I've really gotten into the idea that which ever one gets the most votes, that's it. Period. So pick well. But pick soon. Polls will close Wednesday, Oct. 26. (A girl might need to practice her dessert a bit before the big day, right?!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

Warning! This post may be filled with an excessive number of exclamation points!

It's Friday night!
Seth's home!
It's the weekend!
We're all together!
Fun stuff on tap for the weekend!
It's only seven days until my birthday! (Ha, what a child I am. Who gets excited about birthdays at my age? Well, if you had my husband, you'd get excited too. He's kind of stellar at the birthday thing. No pressure, honey.)

See? Those exclamation points could get really annoying, eh? So I'll dial it back, a bit. Just for you. (In my head though, there are exclamation points going crazy, all over the place. But you can't see them. See how grown up I can pretend to be?)

It was a beautiful fall day today. And actually it's been a pretty good week. A real autumn mixture--there was a really warm day to start things off, followed by fog and a little rain, some just plain gray blah, finishing off with some sunshine interspersed with clouds and gray. No frost yet, at least in our little corner of the world, so that's bonus! I'm grateful for the warm days to at least contemplate getting the garden clear before it all turns to frozen mush. (Have I done it yet? No. Will I probably wait until it's mush? Alas, yes, probably.)

I'm grateful for opportunities, and second chances. When I consider how many second chances I've been given in my life, and witness the same in the lives around me, I wonder how many other/additional second chances I've been given that I'm not even aware of. Follow? It reminds me to continue to extend grace where I can, and live less in judgement. Because goodness knows, I do need that extended back to me most days.

My family provides such loving and consistent support, and I'm grateful for them.

Sleep will always be high on my grateful list. Especially the few hours I can scrounge in the early morning after a bit of a gap in the night. Those are precious scrounged hours!

Fresh, crisp new-crop apples make me excessively happy. I'm grateful to live where fresh fruits and vegetables are so very plentiful, for so much of the year.

Fall decorations are out and mostly up, which makes me very grateful for the change of seasons. White pumpkins are so pretty. Why is that? Orange is perfectly acceptable, but along come the white ones and I'm all enamored--have been for years now, I suppose... but boy have they been hard to come by, locally. I found a few in my apple hunt yesterday, but small ones. Maybe next year we'll plant our own...

The doggies and their abundant enthusiasm for my presence make me grateful for their bouncy, happy ways. I swear Chief was a horse in a previous life, the way he gallops--yes, gallops!--around the yard. I think he would be perfectly happy with a mane to go with his tail.

A bumper crop of butternuts this year!

Mashed purple potatoes from our garden, in case you were wondering...

I'm grateful for the continued color in the garden--the nasturiums especially just will not end! I love it. And there are still strawberries in the strawberry patch, and rhubarb to be harvested again...

A friend posted this to Facebook today, and it really resonated: If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path. -Joseph Campbell

I'm grateful for words, thoughts, ideas, inspirations. The world is so full of them, if we just open our eyes and look around. FULL, I tell you!

I was reading in a book this morning, A Little Book of Healing Prayer, and chanced upon these words: Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it. I am weak in the faith; strengthen me. I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent that my love may go out to my neighbor. I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust you altogether. O Lord, help me and strengthen my faith and trust in you.

It wasn't until I was completely done reading it when I saw the name it was attributed to: Martin Luther. I don't know why that surprised me, but it did. It also made me incredibly grateful for those who have come before, and for those who took the time to record their thoughts, words, prayers and feelings so that centuries later, those of us reading can be surprised, be bolstered in our own journey, encouraged in our doubt and fear, and revived in our faith.

I had lunch today with the pastor of my childhood church and his wife, who are here in town visiting their daughter, who is a dear friend of mine. The daughter and I weren't friends as children in British Columbia (a few years between us that matters at 14 but certainly not at 40+), but have become close here, many miles away... amazing how those things work out, eh? It was a great deal of fun to catch up with them and have probably the first REAL conversation of my life with them. As a child/teen, it was all fine and nice and whatever, but it wasn't much beyond hello and how are you? Once again, I was grateful for my childhood and the many people who made up the tribe that contributed to my upbringing. Way before Ms. Clinton coined it, there were villages, doing their thing with raising children. And I was blessed to have a very good village.

And because it wouldn't be a week without a little Pinterest, here are a few images that just popped up along that path this week. Little nuggets of joy, if you will...

bunny (such cuteness!)

 madeleines (how candy corn of me--I actually don't like the candy, but the look is fun)

rice krispie treats (see how much I like the candy corn look? Obviously quite a bit...)

pinecones (must make for the holidays!)

halloween pets (I'm thinking everyone I know with a small animal must indulge in these for Halloween!)

thing 1&2 (gets my twin itch going, for sure!)

gloves (definitely on the to-make list)

How has your week gone? Full of good stuff, bad stuff, middle-of-the-road stuff? The stuff of life? Tell me about it!

I hope that no matter how it's been, you're glad to be at the weekend, and you get a chance to relax and rest a bit, enjoy family and/or friends, and indulge in a little bit of whatever makes you happy.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday 13: Daybook musings

For today:

1. I am thinking that I'm so glad that laughter exists. I did a bit of that yesterday--at a meeting where I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to laugh *quite* so much. But I wasn't too giggly... I swear. But I love laughter.

2. I am thankful for good friends, always. I had a lovely Google chat with my heirloom friend Corinne yesterday afternoon. Yes, heirloom friend. That's our new word. No more BFF, that's so last week. We've been friends for 26 years, so we definitely feel very heirloomy... we covered all the good topics, solved a few of the world's problems, and even got a little girly and shallow too. All the important stuff.

3. In the kitchen I am feeling off my game. Not sure why, maybe just a little uninspired. Need to get a little inspiration and motivation. Feeling the need to get a little healthier around here too... my tastebuds have been leaning toward fat and salt lately, with a little sugar thrown in for good measure. So, to retrain toward a bit more health, less processed... wish me/us luck.

4. I am wearing jeans and a T and cardy. Comfortable, but dressed. Bonus.

5. I am creating some fun stuff with crochet right now, and having quite a bit of fun with it too (well, other than the whole project I had to throw out on Sunday, as the result of a bad, quick decision with a pair of scissors. Horrors!). I think, though, I need to pick a craft and stick with it for a month or two, doing ONLY that craft and not even trying to fit in the others. I am not doing a good job of multitasking right now, so it's kind of that way by default, but maybe being a bit more intentional about it will alleviate the guilt. I know, what's that? Craft guilt? Who knew? I just look over at my calligraphy table and sigh...

6. I am going to support our local Humane Society this weekend at the annual gala--the Furr Ball. Yes, it is indeed called THAT. Meow! Woof! And today I encouraged the use of Furr-bulous and Bow-wow and that kind of silliness in sponsor levels as I was proofreading the program. Just couldn't resist. Of course, the men are going with me. And some good friends and their son too, so hopefully everyone will be happily entertained. (But we'll keep an eye on the boys at the silent auction tables for sure. Don't want to be coming home with some oopsie items because somebody was kept bidding it up!)

7. I am wondering why it seems at times that tackling things head on is harder work than avoiding them? If you take the long view, avoidance seems to be a heck of a lot more work, with all the ducking and dodging. And by "head on" I don't mean bulldozing, I just mean being clear, straight, honest. I went to a class/lecture on conflict management yesterday, can you tell?

8. I am reading a lot of blog posts/web sites about blogging, how to start blogging, what makes for good blogging. A friend of mine bought a local scrapbooking store this past summer and is offering some new kinds of classes... I am teaching a small class today on blogging basics for creatives. I already taught a general "technology for creatives" kind of class, and that went well, and this one I feel like I have an even better handle on. It's narrower in scope and doesn't run the risk of being as overwhelming as TECHNOLOGY. Just that word can be overwhelming... So anyway, wish me luck. I think it will be fun, and a very small class, so very hands on too... next up, a Pinterest class (I know, you're shocked).

9. I am hoping for some blue sky today. That might be a bit of a stretchy kind of hope, but at least we're not socked in with fog. We had that flip-flop earlier this week: one day of sunshine, gorgeous blue skies and high-ish temps, followed by a really foggy morning. It freaked out a few people that the inevitable Walla Walla fog had arrived and would stay all winter (we've had some pretty long stretches of fog here...), but by mid-afternoon it burned off beautifully. Now, it's just gray. Blah.

10. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving. Family time!

11. I am hearing a few music videos on my computer. I almost posted 13 videos today, but wasn't quite ready. So I'm taking the easy way out and just musing at you. Lucky you.

12. Around the house it's all pretty tidy at the moment. You'd better come visit right this moment, because that changes incredibly quickly. I have no idea HOW exactly, but we really know how to clutter up a space around here, between mail and odds-n-ends and who-knows-what... Also, I'm just two seconds away from having fall/Thanksgiving decorations up and going... the gourds have been purchased, the leaves brought out (I have some fun ideas of what to do with them this year), the appropriate glassybabies set out...

13. I am pondering what I have left to get ready for my class this morning. I gotta get moving.

Not sure what happened... I swear the daybook thing used to be 13 items long. Hmmm... Well. I have already written the next two tidbits, so you're getting bonus musings today...!

One of my favorite things right now are all the fall flavors and colors... minus Halloween. I am such a non-Halloween person, there's really not much about that whole "season" that I appreciate--I'm not into dressing up, not into the undead-ghosty stuff, not into decorating specific to spiderwebs and tombstones... OK, so what's the Halloween version of a Grinch? That's me (with a few mini Snickers thrown in, I'm not a complete nut job, really). Take me straight through to Thanksgiving, please and thank you.

A few plans for the rest of the week include lunch tomorrow with my childhood pastor and his family who are in town visiting, picking Seth up from school tomorrow and sliding on in to the weekend. Oh and making and canning applesauce, and maybe even finally blogging about some of the recipes I've made recently, as I've been just horrible about that...

Here is picture for thought I am sharing.

Remember that? That was my "word" this year... how's it going with that? Ha.

How are things in your world? Fall arrived in all it's glory? Tell me what you're up to!

For more Thursday 13 folk, go here.

For more daybook kind of people, go here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

This week I am grateful for many things; quite a few of them you have heard before: health, family, my men, the weather (well, not SO much on the dull, gray days, but in general it's been a lovely fall so far), prayer/faith and the contentedness it brings me, color and silly things like Pinterest, you know... the usual. (And figs. Basil. Friendship. Coffee.) (See, it's really hard for me to NOT do the list.)

But a few posts from other blogs have really added gratitude to my week, and I am very thankful for people who put their thoughts out to the universe in specific ways to touch others' lives. It's really hard to know if what you say is going to impact anyone, but believe me: I am blessed by things I read all the time.

Here are a few I am especially grateful for.

Walking On My Hands: Balance
"Perhaps I will find balance only when I surrender to the imbalance, to the unbending truth that balance can only exist between polarity, between gravity and a tiny body, between the jagged earth and the infinite sky."

Writing My Way Sober: The Most Beautiful Truth I Know
"All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming." -Helen Keller

A Design So Vast: Look at the light of this hour and Learning to Breathe

Live In The Layers: Let the hours play upon my body

The Gypsy Mama: I want my kids to know I was more than their mom
"I want them to know they were enough. Just as they were. That they never needed to perform for us."

I do want to especially note my men this week... my gratitude for them fills my heart so completely. For the love and kindness of my son to those around him, I am most grateful. His true and compassionate heart is one of his most winning traits. (And he has many...) (I'm completely biased, I know.)

And for my husband and the many gifts he bestows upon our family, I am daily, hourly grateful; from his hard work and dedication to his laughter and teasing and loving appreciation of our life together, he makes our world a better place.

I hope gratitude is a part of your week's ending as well. What are you grateful for this week? Big, small, infinitesimal, I would love to know about it.

Peace to you and yours.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ten Word Tuesday

Beautiful fall breezes blew baby tumbleweeds into the kitchen. Really.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Common Miracles, week #22: The ordinary stuff of life

 “Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.”
-Pema Chodron

As I look around my world during this beautiful autumn, I see many ordinary things that qualify as common miracles:

*Leaves turning color. We don't have a lot of yellows and oranges, but quite a few reds... on fire!
*Pheasants scuttling around the front yard.
*Bunnies sitting and munching in the rain.
*Dahlias still blooming, happily.
*Flowers my husband brought home for me.
*Thanksgiving (Canadian) flowers my parents sent to us, so beautiful.
*Plum cobbler, yum. I could make a whole meal of it. (Well, I kind of just did.)
*Seth on his trumpet, making beautiful noise.
*The sound of rain on the shop roof (I could sleep out there!).
*Dark clouds against the mountains.
*Smell of turkey roasting (again with the Canadian Thanksgiving... we call it "warm-up Thanksgiving" around here).
*Pumpkins all piled up outside the grocery stores. 
*Fuzzy socks and warm sweaters.

In a way, I feel like fall snuck up on me. But in another way, it seems right on time. Loving every minute of these cooler days and wishing that somehow darkness didn't have to come along with it. There's certainly no common miracle in the dark! Ha.

I am indeed inspired by my everyday good fortune, and I hope you are feeling the same, whatever your Monday held!

To see how the Common Miracle project started, go here.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

You know it's fall when the darkness descends earlier and earlier... it's Friday evening (as I begin to write this) and yet it might as well be the middle of the night! This "feature" to autumn is both something I adore and something I dread... Funny how that can be, but it is.

I'm grateful today that husband took the day (mostly) away from work (sort of). It was a nice day, differently paced for both of us, and a lovely segue into the weekend.

We had two days of rain this week, and I loved it. Every minute of it. And to top it off, on the second day, as the rain faded and the sun went down, we had a lovely and amazing sunset. I am grateful for the sunsets here in the valley, all four seasons of them. I wish I could figure out how to take decent pictures of sunsets, but those seem just a little outside my expertise... now if I only read all the tutorials I find re: photography...

I'm grateful that Seth's first round of high school conferences went well--
he's doing really good work on the academic side of things, the social side seems to be mellow enough (just the way he--and I--likes it!), and most important, he's having fun. It was kind of cool to sit there and hear how much his teachers enjoy having him in class--not that I'm surprised surprised, it was just reassuring. It was, on the spectrum of how these things can go with a co-parenting situation (if you get my drift), pretty good.

It's Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and I bought a wee turkey today to make a mini-Thanksgiving dinner for our family on Sunday. I don't always fly my Canadian flag wildly, since I'm a U.S. citizen and and have been a resident, more or less, since 1985. I'm grateful to have my Canadian heritage, and there's nothing quite like going "home" to Canada. And, I'm a big fan of Canadian candy too. Ha. At least I have my priorities straight, eh?

And just as I wrote that last paragraph, who should call but my Canadian grandmother! I am SO grateful to have a grandma who calls occasionally to say hello. She's 92 and still kicking (gently kicking, she's a lady, after all...). I'm grateful for the kicking, too.

I continue to glean basil off my basil plants and make pesto and eat it with just about everything, so I haven't quite tipped over into fall eating completely. But with the rain this week, it really brought out the soup and stew in me, so I think this coming week will have some yumminess in that direction. I am grateful for seasons, and how it switches up the menu (whether I want it to or not!).

Another benefit of the slowed down growth in the garden and yard is that mowing is slowed up too. I do like mowing, and my love of a new lawn edger from husband has been heard near and far, but even the most avid mower likes a break... I'm not done done, but I know I can space it out quite a bit between mowings now, and I'm grateful for that!

Tomorrow I'm trekking up to my high school alma mater to say hello to my fellow graduates from 1986. While I know it must be so hard for you to believe it's been 25 years since I graduated from high school, that is indeed the case. My BFF Corinne is not able to come up from California for the occasion, but I'm soldiering on anyway... you'd better make it for 30, C. I'm counting on it! I'm especially grateful for my time at UCA because of the friends I made there. Actually, that's really the only reason I'm grateful for my time there... the people.

I'm grateful for laughter. Oh, how I do love a good belly laugh. (And I'm not one to shy away from a tear or two either--see my post earlier this week re: Parenthood. Yowsah.) Friend Jen posted earlier this week re: Melissa McCarthy's hosting of Saturday Night Live. I haven't watched an SNL episode in real time in... well, many years. So I rarely keep up on who is hosting. Occasionally I'll see a clip on Hulu+, as it's apparently pretty popular there and the more popular clips pop up as suggested viewing. Well, Jen's post prompted me to check out the whole episode and I laughed heartily a number of times--always when Melissa McCarthy was in a scene. I adore her. I always have, from Gilmore Girls days. We watch Mike & Molly too, on occasion, and Bridesmaids was really quite a hoot. She and Kristen Wiig together? Priceless. OK, so if I haven't convinced you enough, I am posting my favorite clip to help seal the deal. Love. Her. (The whole episode is available here.)

I continue to be grateful for the beauty (and sometime silliness) that IS Pinterest. Here are a few of my favorites that are definitely from the silly/pointless/what-are-you-pinning? side...

mullet (I almost feel bad about posting this... where is this person now, do they have a sense of humor about this picture? I hope so.)

wolves  (Seth should have had this onesie...)

And I'll leave you with those deep and meaningful images to take you into the weekend! I hope you have lots to be grateful for this week? What's on your list?

Blogger Template By Designer Blogs