Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

A utumn, fall, whatever you call it, appears to be well and truly on its way... Even writing that sentence feels a bit premature. And yet, crisper mornings, shorter evenings, cooler temps, stacks of back-to-school supplies... yep, fall.

Granted, there are pieces of summer still rolling around in my mind and pouring out of the garden, from fabulous tomatoes and basil and summer squash to dahlias and nasturtiums and fever few blossoms. But already I can feel it all slowing down, an inevitable slide toward the dormancy of winter.

Usually, I'm all over fall. I have been known to annoy more than one friend with my "Yippee, pumpkin lattes!" posts on Facebook (yes, I'm looking at you, PDX Jen) and my overt joy at leaves turning colors and frosty blades of grass... and I'm sure that will happen again--both my joy and my ability to annoy--but there's a real push-pull for me between summer and fall this year. I have come to love, not merely tolerate, the heat that is a Walla Walla summer. The month of August with Seth was just really, really great. In many ways, it feels like we are all, as a family, just getting into our summer groove, and yet here we are, poised for structure and the fresh starts of a new school year. (Yeah! Darn.)

So much in the months ahead is lovely. Fall brings with it so many things that I adore, culminating in the holidays and family time that comes with the season. Between now and then, I'll breathe a little more deeply, close my eyes every once in awhile, and just try to enjoy the moment of where I'm at. And be grateful.

A few of the specific things I'm grateful for, this week:

My brother, who sent me this blog post about gratitude just today; you must read it, seriously. Having a sibling who gets you is not to be underestimated. xo Shelby.

For friends who remind me of the real and the true.

For quiet days. For the bliss of living in a quiet spot, where the loudest noises at times are tractors starting up (two farms over) or a neighbor calling their dog. Most often it's the chickens five acres over or the doves on our own eaves. Qui-et.

For the scent of chiles and corn roasting. I swear, I could eat the air in the house right now.

For my husband and my son, who never fail to make me laugh, even at myself. I am very thankful for laughter.

For the prospect of a long weekend, getting things accomplished and enjoying a little down time. How precious time is... to have a little of the more relaxed kind? Bonus.

For this sliver of in-between time... not quite fall, not quite summer. I am looking out on deep lavender skies and golden gray hills... with apparently a blue moon to boot! I walked down to get the paper tonight and was struck, as always, by the beauty of this setting, and how very lucky we are to have this particular piece of paradise.

For the bounty of produce that our land provides. Apples are ready to eat!

Wishing you the peace of the weekend, and things to be grateful for too.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday 13: Recipes to share

My various RSS feeds have gone largely ignored of late, I've really been falling down on the job! Ha. So the past couple of weekends, just so I don't miss EVERYthing good out there on the interwebs, I've breezed through a few of my folders and highlighted posts to come back to and save or move along.

In my food feed, there were a number of lovelies worth a try, so of course I pinned them or starred them, and I thought I would share 13 of them with you.

1. I could eat a variation on this almost every day! Heuvos Californios. Yum.

2. Flan is fabulous, and suits my custard-loving ways so well.

3. A blogger posted corn recipes from other bloggers, and looking through them, these corn cakes cried out to me, "Make me!"

4. Around here we like Mexican, we love lentils, so this stew will have to be on the menu this fall!

5. Raspberry frangipane tart with honey raspberry icecream? You had me at frangipane!

6. I have been in a curry mood all summer. Here's a version from a cook at PBS. Again, on the menu for fall!

7. This pasta with squash blossoms might still need to be made this summer... those squash blossoms aren't slowing down yet in the garden!

8. The takeaway in this recipe for me is the creamed feta. Sounds absolutely heavenly. I could see putting it over any grilled vegetables, really...

9. And another use for the zucchini? OK, can do! (Especially since it has Julia's name all over it.)

10. And now for a little  decadence. Anything with "lava" in the title needs to be tried, I say.

11. Apple slaw sounds like a great option to try with our very own apples this fall.

12. And if there's a rainbow, I've got to find it, right? This dessert is apparently a bunch of sit-around-and-wait time, but boy I do think it would be worth taking a day off work just to make it, don't you think?

13. Last but definitely not least, this salad was posted quite some time ago, and I missed pomegranate season to try it... but seasons come around again, so I have tucked this away.

So, which one should I make first? It's hard to pick, but it's sure to be something that has fresh produce right now, like the squash blossoms or zucchini tian... What would YOU make?

For more Thursday 13s, go here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Midweek reminder: Red yarn ties our hearts

In keeping with the back-to-school, where-did-the-summer-go angst that's rolling around my brain this week:

Life seems to flood by, taking our loves quickly in its flow. In the growth of children, in the aging of beloved parents, time’s chart is magnified, shown in its particularity, focused, so that with each celebration of maturity there is also a pang of loss. This is our human problem, one common to parents, sons and daughters, too--how to let go while holding tight, how to simultaneously cherish the closeness and intricacy of the bond while at the same time letting out the raveling string, the red yarn that ties our hearts.
-Louise Erdrich, The Blue Jay’s Dance

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ten Word Tuesday

Shorter days, need to adjust sleep patterns accordingly. Tired. Grumpy.

Monday, August 27, 2012

There is no friend like a sister

For there is no friend like a sister
in calm or stormy weather;
to cheer one on the tedious way
to fetch one if one goes astray
to lift one if one totters down
to strengthen while one stands.
-Christina Rossetti

I am fortunate to have two such lovely sisters, but only one is celebrating her birthday today! Happy birthday, dear Kim. Hope your day is filled with lovely things. You are a blessing to our family, and I'm so glad you're in it.

Just remember, you are to lift me when I totter down... (that might come sooner rather than later). And in more us-speak: I appreciate so much being able to pick up the phone and share and rant and rave and laugh. Now, we just need to work on diminishing the miles between us...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cream scones fit for a Queen, or at the very least, a Prince!

No proper English tea would be complete without scones, would it? I can't imagine why you'd want to even try! The lightness of this dough, combined with jam, cream, butter... whatever your pleasure... they really are delicious little gems. Thankfully, they also got the real-deal-thumbs-up from our resident Brit at work (whew!).

I'm putting them into my "make again & always" file for future scone needs. Why keep looking around when the jackpot has been hit?

Cream scones (with currents, if you choose. I did not.)
from Baking Illustrated
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup currants (if that's your inclination...)
1 cup heavy cream (I did mostly heavy cream, but some whole milk. I would imagine I could cut it even further downward in the fat department for future bakings

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday night grateful moment: Seth

I'm sitting in Seth's newly rearranged big-boy room (OK, not really, in the traditional "big-boy" sense, more a movement from early-teen to TEEN), and just a few minutes ago it struck me that my grateful list is short and sweet and one-note tonight: my boy.

I am so grateful for:

His sweet and loving ways. He is always good for a hug, and is not shy with sharing words of love and kindness.

His unique ways of seeing the world. Watching him come into himself and learn more about what he thinks and believes, is really a pleasure. Our conversations at home are always lively, and when we disagree or don't see eye to eye, there is always respect.

His thirst for knowledge. As we cleaned and rearranged his room this afternoon, there was a great deal of sorting through books for keepability; he has such a great range of interests, and a crazy amount of books to go with those interests!

His funky obsessions. From various music artists (current standbys are Cake, The Flashbulb, Little People and Ratatat) to his Magic card games to Line Rider and Frosted MiniWheats for breakfast every single morning all summer (I know, who is raising this kid?). What, my child? A tangent or two? How bizzare. ;)

His good heart. Seth always wants to believe the best in people, even those who have disappointed him. I love this so much, and am so glad for him that he knows how to forgive and move forward. This will serve him well throughout his life.

His growth in helpfulness. Seth has really stepped up this summer with help around the house, from painting window trim to mowing and weeding (not his favorite), as well as doing the dishes every single day and laundry start to finish. It's been a huge help to me as I head off to work, to know he'll take care of various household tasks.

His love for his step-dad. Their relationship is truly one of the greatest gifts of this past decade. It simply can't be understated how much better all of our lives are because of their affection for each other.

The song in the video below is one that reminds me of Seth (of course!), whenever I hear it. There's no "official" music video, so I was at the mercy of the three people who have made videos using this song... these babies are pretty precious.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Link love: 13 links and quotes on writing and writers

In my wanderings online and gathering of tidbits, themes at times arise. Of course, trending issues in the news help toward that end as well.

This week I'm sharing 13 tidbits--links and quotes both--related to writing and writers.

1. “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” -Ernest Hemingway

2. I adore this post. If you don't read anything else here today, please read it. Very human, and humorous, relative to the ego and envy between writers.

3. “The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them--words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That's the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a tellar but for want of an understanding ear.” -Stephen King, Different Seasons

4. Molly Ringwald wrote a book. It is on my must-read list, just because Molly is an old fave. Yes, I am from the Pretty In Pink generation, if you didn't already know!

5. Recently I enjoyed this post on semi-colons in The Opinionator section of The NYTimes. Me, I'm a semi-colon girl. Not overly, but certainly not to be avoided, a la Vonnegut.

6. Of course, this piece is ripped (insert loud ripping noise here) from the headlines relative to Joshua Leher's recent nosedive.

7. This quote made me laugh out loud! “I haven't any right to criticize books, and I don't do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” -Mark Twain

8. “If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories--science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” -Ray Bradbury

9. Some rules for writing.

10. One writer's quest to unseat 50 Shades of Grey. I wish him luck!

11. “All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.” -E.B. White

12. Some good tips about Copyblogger's success at writing blog posts. Now if I actually remembered them when I'm writing...

13. “I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of. ” -Joss Whedon

I hope there's a nugget or two there to inspire your creative muse!

Happy Thursday, and for more Thursday 13s, go here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Midweek reminder: Now is the time

We're always in some kind of mood. It might be sadness, it might be anger, it might be not much of anything, kind of a blur. It might be humor or contentment. In any case, whatever it is, that's the path.

When something hurts in life, we don't usually think of it as our path or as the source of wisdom. In fact, we think that the reason we're on the path is to get rid of this painful feeling. In this way, we naively cultivate a subtle aggression toward ourselves.

However, the fact is that anyone who has used the moments, days, and years of his or her life to become wiser, kinder, and more at home in the world has learned from what's happening right now. We can aspire to be kind right in the moment, to relax and open our heart and mind to what is in front of us right in the moment. Now is the time. 
-Pema Chodron

Monday, August 20, 2012

Guest post over at Sprout

My friend Chel at GingerBlue Studios asked me if I'd do a guest post for a gardening blog she writes with a couple of other people. I said, "YES!" of course.

Check it out.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Walkabout on the weekend

And, as suddenly as it was hot, it was cold.

Well, not cold cold, but definitely lacking heat. It was as if we went to bed during summer and woke up with an autumn chill in the air. Pleasant, for sure, and made the hike we had planned for the afternoon very doable.

The island my parents live on is rather small, quite remote, and beautiful. But even on this remote island, there are accessible places and a few even-more-remote spots. A favorite hike of theirs happens to be on private property that some very kind people allow access to for hiking, and has a couple of trails that edge the ocean, as well as a big old path down the middle. It all ends at what is called Edith Point. The lucky folks who actually live there have a home at the far end of the big path, and the whole property is rather a piece of heaven, in my humble opinion. I say that with full disclosure that I don't think I could actually ever live on that island, and maybe any small island, as I tend to feel a bit trapped after a bit, being dependent on ferries and such. But IF I were to live on that island, this particular spot at the end of the earth feels really serene. Kind of like "go big or go home," this would be my "I'll see your remote and raise you isolated!" hideaway.

My lovely mother.

I am rather fond of the mossy rocks.

The erosion makes for some unique patterns on the rocks.

Called arbutus in Canada, or madrone in the States, these trees with red skin and greenish innards are always eye-catching.

The house of the kind people who don't mind trespassers is just to the right of the photo frame. While I can be convinced to tromp on their land, I just couldn't bring myself to take a picture of their house. Go figure.

Here's where Mayne Island fits in to the Grand Scheme of British Columbia:

And below is a map that shows where Edith Point fits in to Mayne Island. Now you know! (I knew you were itching with curiosity.) See how far that point is from any discernible road? That's about a mile, so that gives you an idea of the overall size of the island.

Note: Just above the red arrow that I oh-so-creatively drew on the map, you'll see a creature that oddly resembles the Loch Ness monster, or in British Columbia/Okanagan Valley lore, the Ogopogo. I have never heard of such a sea creature living in the waters off Mayne Island, and was very amused to find this image on the map I downloaded. I'm still deciding whether it's offensive (diluting the Ogopogo brand, don't you know?) or just map filler and thus, entertaining.

Our time on Mayne is always too short but still very relaxing and enjoyable: full of good food, stiff Wii bowling competition and pleasant Mexican train dominoes games, and of course, lively discussion on everything from the stock market to home renovations to some pretty silly joke exchanges between Grandpa and Seth. (Oh, and afternoon naps too!)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Friday night grateful moment


We're hot.

Seventh level of hades hot.

Okay, that might be slight exaggeration. It's certainly warm, and I think half of the feeling like we're melting like the Wicked Witch is that we're in a peaceful place surrounded by water, not usually associated with such warmth. This is the place where I usually ask to borrow a sweater, since I forgot layers are mandatory on this side of the Cascades. Or long pants, or shoes with socks, or an extra blanket for the bed... You get my drift. If it weren't deemed unacceptable (I'm just guessing here, but it seems reasonable to assume) and frankly rather uncomfortable, we'd probably all be wandering around nekkid. But no, we're sipping ice water and waiting for a breeze to waft by and the sun to shift behind the trees...

But we're grateful, even as we sweat. Maybe especially grateful...

For air conditioning (at home). I am always grateful for that convenience. I am not big of the frozen popsicle that a lot of places (I was in a freezing Starbucks the other day. FREEZING.) like to turn into during the warm months, but a little cool to sleep in is a very lovely thing.

For this idyllic setting for a brief getaway. Can you see the heat waves rising in front of the camera? Instagram needs a filter for that...

For Chief, our international traveler. I am SO grateful that this trip has gone easily for him. He's been largely relaxed and happy (probably lulled into lethargy from the heat, but I'll take it.)

For cool soups that make hot evenings a bit more palatable...

I'm so grateful for my parents' marriage: 46 years and going strong. It's a wonderful thing.

For the garden that gives and gives, and gives some more.

For ALL the summer eating we've been doing lately, from squash to corn to kale to tomatoes, finally with the tomatoes!

For afternoon naps (or are they afternoon comas?).

For the breezes, when they do waft through the house. And for shade.

For our TinTin boy, isn't he sweet?

For Mexican Train dominoes games, and Wii bowling tournaments...
all the fun things that we only do on vacation. 

For walks, and talks, and little trips to the market. Time together with family.

For unusual wildlife... well, unusual for us! I was out on the deck the first night we arrived, with Chief, and I heard this odd, low growl-hiss. I didn't look or think twice, I just scooted right into the house with Chief and asked my mom what *that* could have been... oh, just the raccoons, she said. A momma and three babies. So of course, we had to go back out and take a closer peek! 

Wishing you a peaceful weekend, filled with things to be grateful for. What's on your grateful list for this week?

Update: I did publish this list Friday night, really. But was an issue with, and if you aren't subscribed through the RSS feed (which brings up the question, why not? It's a splendid way to get all your bloggy needs met in one place, so to speak), then it didn't publish to the blogger site. That should be fixed now!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Few things are more British than tea...

Nothing like an international extravaganza--Olympics, anyone?--to bring out the festive. We closed off the medal chase at work yesterday with a English-inspired tea-for-lunch to celebrate, complete with fabulous decor and flowers (my sister-in-law knows how to throw a party, for sure!), and even cut-outs of the royal family to facilitate the mood.

The menu for our tea (it was really hard for me to narrow the choices down, so many fun things to choose from!):

Tea sandwiches
Egg salad with chives
Blue cheese with watercress
Coronation chicken salad
Salmon mousse
Roasted red pepper with cheddar
Artichoke with sundried tomato

Union Jack cheesecake berry puff (above)
Union Jack petit fours (top photo) 
Violet shortbreads (below)

Cream scones
Lemon curd
Strawberry jam

Iced tea with lavender, hibiscus and ginger-passionfruit simple syrups to flavor

Those Brits, not too shy with the butter... or the cream! 

The recipes worth sharing are bold, above. If I adapted them, I'll post what I did and how it evolved... but the recipes I found online are linked to those sites. I will work on posting the others in the next week or so.

It's always a little sad when the Olypmics are finished, even if this time around I didn't watch nearly the amount I usually do... but, soon enough we'll be in Russia for 2014 and Rio for 2016... crazy how quickly that will be upon us!

Off to have a little scone with my coffee (uh-oh, maybe I should have said tea...).
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