Tuesday, May 24, 2016

change of plans

I woke up so tired this morning. So tired.

After about a half hour - just as we were leaving, and for the umpteenth time I was yawning and saying, "I'm so tired today!" - my husband looked at me and suggested, "Why don't you just stay home?"

He had a point. I didn't have any meetings today. In fact, it's a rather quiet week for me at my day job. And I have a decent stash of personal time and vacation hours saved up.

So hey, why not?

We got coffee together and then he dropped me back at home. I pulled my PJs back on and climbed into the guest nook with a drawing pad, my cell phone, some pens, a notecard for making a list/plan for the day, my laptop, and my coffee.

I put on a foreign movie I'd started a few days ago and hunkered down in the blankets. I didn't even drink my coffee before I crashed.

I woke up 3 hours later. My coffee was cold, but I didn't care. I poked around on ebay and snapped up a couple basic summer skirts for work. (I had a great thrifted silk skirt for summer days at the office that I wore like crazy last year - until I spilled salad dressing down it and stained it. So I've been looking for replacements.)

I went downstairs and made breakfast and brought it back upstairs to bed with me - remember the fancy oatmeal recipe I was going to try out? It's really super-duper good.

Then I streamed a little trashy fantasy TV and broke out my pens and finished this border for a friend's book. It took me four hours to finish, and it felt so incredibly luxurious to just sit there in bed, drawing. Wonderful.

I squeezed in a short workout and then went out and smoothed and tamped the soil in an area of the yard that we just tilled up and enriched with compost this weekend, and planted several dozen dahlias from my MIL. I wound up having to pot up the last 17 tubers until we can prep more soil for them. They won't hold long in those quart-sized pots, but it's something, at least.

And it's May, and there are peonies. Luscious, romantic peonies. We are building a thing of beauty.

Monday, May 23, 2016


It's wild strawberry season! I brought about a dozen of these plants with me to start a colony at the new house. They're already sending out runners everywhere and I'm cheering!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

another work week begins

It's late. We had such a lovely weekend, though, that I want to pop in and say something about it before I go to bed.

Wait; scratch that. It's not just about having had a lovely weekend. It's also about choice.

There are always so many good opportunities, so many interesting, rich, and rewarding things to do. So many things I want to do. So many things I want to learn. So many things I want to make. So many things I want to read.

These interests create pressures.

There are also pressures created by the fact that I don't come from means. That I put myself through college - beginning with undergrad - and not in a lucrative field. So when I get the opportunity to freelance, to continue building a solid foundation of experience (and demonstrate my worth - my freelancing rate is going up), I have a hard time saying no. We have bills to pay. I'm always worried about what would happen if one of us wound up in the hospital. If my hubs got one of the many cancers that a certain genetic trait predisposes him to get. If, if if ...

So many worries.

I need to stop worrying quite so much. I know it's not productive, but it's hard to stop.

Just like it's hard to step back and say, "I am going to complete all this work by my deadline easily. So it's okay not to work this weekend."

I didn't so much consciously make that choice this weekend as ... a book arrived in the mail on Friday. A book my mother read in her book club and has been insisting I should read so we could talk about it. I requested it from the library on Monday and it actually arrived at the local branch on Thursday - I had planned to go for a nice long walk on Friday afternoon and pick it up. But then the book showed up on my doorstep! Funny Mom!

I took the book to bed with me on Friday night. We slept in the sleeping nook in our guest room that night because the weather had turned cold and there was more heat in the attic than downstairs. This is all setting the stage for the perfect moment: Saturday morning, I woke late (for me). Cass was fast asleep beside me, Zaha curled in a ball between our feet. I pulled the book out from under my pillow and started reading.

I was more than halfway through it a couple hours later, when we finally went to go get coffee. I had originally intended to head downstairs as soon as I awoke on Saturday, hit the elliptical for a couple miles, then make a grocery list, and generally do some tidying up.

Instead I lay in bed with my dearest darling next to me and our little lamb of a cat curled at our feet and I got lost in a book for hours.

It changed things.

We got coffee and made dinner plans with a friend for next Friday. We ran a couple errands at a lazy pace. I bought fabric, frivolously, to make a dress for a friend's new baby - after I finish the fox quilt for her, that is! Cass was completely in the spirit of the thing, picking out cute buttons for the dress. As we get older, I think we both are really growing into this role as part of several families' "villages."

We came home and I worked on that fox quilt, while watching a Harry Potter movie.

I never did work out.  We had a family dinner in the evening, and that was that for the whole day. .

Today was much the same: a few necessary errands done, with some frittering about sandwiched in between. A little bit of yard work, but we were halted several times by rain. Eventually we gave up and called it a day, our planned task left unfinished. House not quite so clean as I'd intended it to be before the work week starts.

But you know? Sometimes you just have to give yourself space to breathe. Time and space to let whatever it is that's inside of you unfurl.

Here's to unwinding.

I made this awesome and dead simple curry dish on Friday. It was supposed to be dinner, but it was so good I ate two bowls of it for lunch and we had to make rice to stretch it for dinner (even then, it was a light meal!). I used a good vadouvan mix for the curry powder, substituted aleppo pepper in for the red pepper flakes, used light coconut milk instead of full-fat coconut milk (because my stomach can't handle a lot of fat like that), used the entire contents of a big bag of spinach from Trader Joe's (because why not?), and used fresh-cooked (not canned) garbanzos because if you have the time to soak and cook, why not?

It's a really delicious dish - I think it'll be going into our regular weeknight rotation because it's so fast and tasty. Try it!

This coming week, I'm trying this fancy oatmeal recipe. I'm using coconut sugar to sweeten mine, and I prepped a TON of both chopped almonds (which I toasted!) and stewed rhubarb (probably four times as much as the recipe calls for!), figuring I could just quickly cook up a couple batches of the oats on various mornings. I'll let you know what I think once I've tried it - but I do so like starting the week with something special to eat for breakfast. A special breakfast is like a hug from your Weekend Self to your Workaday Self, don't you think?

Apparently, I'm very much focused on self-love and self-care right now. Not a bad place for an overachieving perfectionist to be.

Be good to yourselves this week!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

grandmother's coffee cake - tweaked

I keep forgetting to write down this recipe, and having to call my mother at all hours of the day and night to get it - again! I've finally put it down in a little recipe book, but I wanted to post it here, too, so I can find it easily when I need it next. Here's the family version, with some notes at the end on how I change it up these days (hint: it's vegan).

Blueberry Coffee Cake

For Crumb Mixture

  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. sifted flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. soft butter
For Cake

  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. soft butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 c. sifted flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Butter and flour a 9" square pan

Make crumb mixture: combine dry ingredients, then mix in butter until evenly combined. Set aside.

Make cake: mix together sugar, butter, and egg in a large bowl. Stir in milk.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir to combine. Fold in blueberries.

Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing top. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over top of cake.

Bake, 45-50 min or until tester inserted in center comes out clean.


My substitutions:
Use coconut oil for the soft butter in both crumb mixture and cake.
Use egg replacer for the egg.
Reduce sugar in cake to 1/3 cup.
Substitute 2 c. homemade blackcurrant preserves or fresh or frozen huckleberries (in this cake, I used 1 c. blackcurrant preserves and 1 c. frozen huckleberries).
You may need to bake for an extra 5=7 minutes if using frozen berries or preserves.

tincture of fir

Tincture of Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii; started May 21, 2016.

Monday, May 16, 2016

tincture of roses ( a photo essay)

Tincture of roses, rosa sp.; started May 15, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

flowers in the garden, leaves on the table

Unexpected delights in the garden: this tiny, first-year elderberry is already putting up a couple umbrels of pink blooms, and my "My Castle" lupine is even more beautiful than I remember it being last summer. In the kitchen, I've been trying out a recipe for dolmas made with veal, almonds, and tart cherries from Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume.

Friday, May 6, 2016

hustle and bustle

Feels like I've been working so much lately - every day, the evening gets away from me and there's no time to update here. So, here's something of  round-up. Lilacs on the mantle, on the table, everywhere. I wanted to candy some, but I think I might have to admit that there just isn't time this year...

Pink milk! Tart cherry concentrate in vanilla almond milk, a favorite afternoon pick-me-up of late.

I finished the fox quilt top and am starting to quilt it. The baby's overdue at this point ... looks like my gift will be, too. But not too far off (if, that is, I keep at it).

I bought this floral fabric a couple years ago because I couldn't bear to leave the fabric store without it. It's the perfect, sweet backing for the foxes.

Bolognese-making on a grey, rainy Sunday.

Little lupines I started from seed...

....all potted up, There's time for these to grow (and be potted up) for a year or so, while we get the back yard all tilled up and ready for a garden. Then I'll pack them in, everywhere. I've got purple echinacea, foxglove, and columbine coming on, too. Next year's garden will be so much showier, with all these little darlings added to the mix.