30 January 2008

soup's on...

we seem to be swimming in soup around here these last few weeks! in recent months i have
been stumbling upon so many interesting recipes & that has been making D. very happy. tonight's choice was a clear winner...it has found its place in my "it's a keeper" recipe file!for what's cooking wednesday, it's...

cauliflower cheddar soup (slightly adapted from the Williams-Sonoma catalogue, with my deep gratitude!)
saute 1/2 yellow onion in a generous amount extra virgin olive oil until onion is tender

add one head of cauliflower (cut into florets), saute until light golden brownadd 5 c. chicken broth, 2 c. half & half, 2 t. sea salt, fresh ground pepper...bring all to a boil

reduce heat & simmer til cauliflower is easily pierced with fork

puree in food processor to desired texture then return to heat...add 1 c. shredded white cheddar

adjust seasonings to taste & heat through...serves 6-8up next in the kitchen...my world nutella day recipe that will do double duty for serving on super bowl sunday

29 January 2008

gazing outward...

23. a certain slant of morning light...angled in the perfect way to illuminate the tail feathers of the flicker on our feeder24. the play of light on the water25. a glimpse of a male cardinal flitting through the live oak...his red a perfect contrast with deep green leaves
26. a gentle mourning dove gracing the birdbath for a morning sip27. angel oak...& our own dear little "baby angel"...last winter she was a scrubby reject tossed aside behind the gift shop! first a little about angel oak~~ this magnificent tree is a sight to behold & worthy of a visit if you are in the charleston, sc area. to stand beneath those ancient branches...you can almost hear whispers of things past. to see the lowcountry light filter through its leaves...you are certain you will see a fairy dance among them. that tree is just plain mystical.
every year they sell potted "baby angels" at the gift shop. for reasons usually related to our unfriendly-to-keeping-foliage-alive travel schedule, i have had to pass on taking one home. not last year. the early february weather was just right for transport & we were staying with friends who would not mind hosting a small tree on their grand porch...& so, i asked the kind lady in the gift shop if i might purchase one. at first she said that they did not have any...all the season's saplings had been sold. then she tilted her head to the side, thoughtful for a moment... yes? she remembered that a few of the scraggly saplings had been tossed aside earlier & there might be one or two with a hint of green on them. she graciously took me out back...& yes! there was one~~ it had exactly 2 green leaves! now mind you, live oaks are green year round, so this baby was knockin' on death's door. but i didn't care. home came our very own baby angel.
i feared she was a bit too "in the balance" for a planting into the ground last year, so she stayed in my porch garden & under my watchful eye for a whole year.what a beauty our "baby angel" has become!! she has even shared her potting space with a tiny new pine tree.very soon she will make her home among our larger live oaks, as we are re-foresting our small plot of land (it had been stripped of 17 live oaks during one of the 1996 hurricanes). live oaks are indigenous here, keeping us in the green all year round!

27 January 2008

playing with fire...

all it takes is a spark...a moment in tune with the Holy Spirit...a bit of hard work & a dream, rubbed together...wrapped in prayer...liberally dosed with patience & some teamwork too...soon the dream catches on...fan the flames of passion...live what you were meant to live!...stand back & warm your hands, bask in the glow...watch as the dream sheds light...& draws others near
keep your dreams alive...fan the fire in your heart!!
(campfire extraordinaire~~to warm heart & hands~~ brought to you by boyworld)

20. a calm twilight & a warm campfire...surrounded by love & laughter
21. that moment of realization...i've turned the corner of something & it feels better!
22. warm sun on my face, hound at my feet, coffee in hand, first hugs of the morning...slow day begins...

24 January 2008

in a stupor...

...with a feisty head cold, but still finding gifts~~
17. leaning on your shoulder during act 3...when my head just wanted to lay down & float on the notes that soared...so beautiful, dreamy
18. coming home to a soft bed, being pampered by you...bringing my medicine, a glass of water & a tuck-in for the night...
19. today's soft murmur of the boys at work while i am wrapped up in blankie (yes, i did name my favorite blanket!), wool socks & flannel

23 January 2008

tastes like chicken...

between travel, chasing snow & a good ol' winter cold on the weekend...& a mid-week double delight of today's italian class & tonight's puccini opera "tosca"...cooking is a bit light & rather predictable (according to boyworld, anyway!) this week.

in casa piacere predictable=chicken!

this what's cooking wednesday recipe is a recent experiment gone well...the dish Baby Girl dubbed "awesome chicken" over her holiday. it stands well on its own (& was a fine meat with last night's mashed potatoes & edamame) & it eases rather well into a chicken soup if you have leftovers (i make extra just for that purpose).

sorry...no photos...some very sweet men cleaned up the kitchen too quickly for me to get a shot. can't complain about that!!

awesome chicken

add extra virgin olive oil to a pan to cover the bottom...place 2 pounds split chicken breasts (boneless) in pan

whisk together 1/4 c. dijon mustard, 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar, juice squeezed from 1 lemon, 1/4 c. more olive oil, & 3 finely diced garlic cloves...drizzle over chicken

sprinkle chicken with fresh ground pepper & sea salt to your liking

bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes~~ it's that easy!

21 January 2008


16. scurrying into the basilica for vespers...at twilight~~ shaking the snowflakes before entering the sanctuary...settling into the great silence, seeming to be more quiet than usual with the still winter snowfall outside...candles flickering against the stained glass~~ contrasting light mingling with the chant as darkness falls~~ last notes of holiness hanging in the air~~ walking slowly back out the door, into the sweet white-dappled darkness...

19 January 2008

boyworld, on the road to adventure...

...& a mom 'secret'!

Little Man (aka lil' jim) & his road crew (that would be his dad & i) are on location in charlotte, NC for the great southern snow (not really, but that is what he thinks ;)...please don't tell) with photos to follow, hopefully later today or tomorrow! maybe he'll even live-blog this thing (while his dad & i are giving eternal gratitude to God for 4 wheel drive vehicles!)...
while we are behavin' all weather-channel-like, Big Brois trying out the college lifestylenearby with Baby Girl for the weekend.
who is having more fun...? (please don't answer that!)
notes from the road...or, i've got a 'secret'!!!

15. when you travel with boyworld, it really is one big adventure. these guys are up for almost anything (i say 'almost' because i am with them...if they were alone, it would probably be anything!), so when we see things along the way...like roadsigns that read 'crew'...well, hey! they think that means them. staying in the spirit of boyworld adventure, i turn the vehicle in the general direction of the arrows & suddenly we are 'the crew'...barreling down a country road...
what did we find???

oh, the 'secret'...

the day's set for filming 'the secret life of bees'....i mean, OMG!!!! one of my all-time favorite reads!!in production. in the middle of nowhere.(remember that cute pink house!) to be released in '09. starring queen latifah, dakota fanning & alicia keyes. there we were...in the middle of it with a very nice policeman who had no idea why i could hardly contain my excitement~~ he simply was out of the loop regarding how profoundly awesome this book is! but i told him. & in turn, he did not escort us out of the production area. thank you, kind sir!! you made my day!

so, there you have it!
everyone should be so lucky as to travel with boyworld!! i love these guys!!

17 January 2008


11. solitude...
it's 4:30 pm...D. is still working. boyworld has moved out into the neighborhood for those last moments of daylight.

i am alone. (well, mostly...hound patrol is sleeping at my feet!)

looking around i see a million things i 'should' do...i even start to do some of them. not so good.

can't i see...12. the sun sifting through the clouds in the west after a day of steady, soaking, much-needed rain13. the water droplets sparkling like jewels from every branch & leaf14. the mist caressing the perfectly still water on the bayenough.
i grab the camera...write some words...light a candle...read some lines

breathe deeply of the peaceful solitude...st. anthony was lead into the desert to live 18 years of solitude...may i be so wise as to relish today's gift of 18 minutes of my own calling for solitude.

16 January 2008

a state of being

in my stumbles around the blogosphere today i read..."you are what you do everyday."

what will i do today??

what am i?? what do i hope that i am? what am i called to be? am i living in that general direction?or am i wasting my perception on the reality of someone else? doing what another 'thinks' i should be doing? what mass media insists i 'should' be doing? ignoring the passion within my own soul?

once upon a time, the answer was a very sad "yes"...& then ever so slowly, i began to wake from this stupor. in quiet moments, i heard the soul-whisper of the Holy Spirit asking me deeper questions...i pondered those questions. i held them up to my life being lived.

things shifted.

i felt love & excitement well up inside my heart...little bits at first~~ then more & more...

i began to wake...to live~~~ with joy!!

the quote above, from my bloghopping, challenged me to ponder...i went back to what i wrote last summer in my profile: am i following God's will for my life? spending lots of time with my family? writing, traveling, cooking? immersing in italian?
my heart felt lighter after reading this. before i had written my profile, i thought about it for a few days. would my profile be goals i would hopefully attain? or would it really be me? from re-reading this i see more gifts to count...7. spending lots of time with D. & the children...each & every ordinary day...by phone or in person8. time to write & a beautiful, inspirational place to do it with a wonderful piece of machinery on which to do it...

9. travel dreams...planning that will, God-willing, bring us joy throughout this year & take us back to the place where i left some of my heart on the last trip ;)10. a kitchen that is more than enough, filled with bounty...a place that gives me joy, be it time to prepare something from scratch or simply re-heat a waiting treasure...

today it will be a re-heat of yesterday's scrumptious treasure. i found some lovely squash at the market just beckoning me to take them home. for a few days i could only allow them to languish on my counter, such was their beauty...
but soon, my conservative inner voice said: "you need to make them into a dish, lest they spoil." i miss their color on these winter days, but the soup they provided has been a fine compensation! what's cooking wednesday?...

roasted squash soup

to roast the squash...cut squash in half, drizzle the squash & a cookie sheet with olive oil, also drizzle squash with sea salt...roast cut side down for ~30-40 minutes at 375(skin will be shiny & you will be able to pierce squash with a knife when it is done)

after the squash is cooled, scoop out seeds & stringy center (save seeds to roast), then scoop the soft flesh for use in the soup
in olive oil over medium heat, saute 1/2 yellow onion & 3 garlic cloves til soft
add 2 c. roasted squash & 1/2 c. chicken stock...heat through

season with fresh ground pepper, sea salt & nutmeg...to taste
if you desire a softer soup, puree in food processor then reheat if needed

grate white cheddar or parmigiano-reggiano cheese into puree & serve

13 January 2008

a journey of a thousand miles...

...begins with the first step. i have done new years with resolutions (& even kept a few!) & without resolutions. what do i prefer? really, it depends on the year & my mood & where my life is going when the calendar begins anew. this year didn't feel particularly resolution-worthy for me, not because i lack a need to improve (oh, believe me, i do, i do, i do!!!). in those quiet holiday moments (there were a few!), i heard my heart say, be gentle on yourself right now. i also heard the yearnings of my soul to be creative in some small way. what felt inspiring? what felt right?
after NaBloPoMo last november, i kept turning the "30 days of thanks" over & over in my mind...i really liked that part of the daily blogging. in that month i also stumbled upon a new-to-me blog with something that made my heart sing. ann at holy experience began a list in late 2006...one thousand gifts & i knew when i began reading that i would do this too. all is joy when you count your blessings!
look for the numbers randomly on the blog... count along with me...i'd love your company on the journey! a joy is felt twice when it is shared... & so it begins with the first step~

1. a steady rain in our drought-striken area

2. the boys working at their dad's side3. the laughter of friends gathered in the other room

4. water streaming over my sleepy face in the early morning5. the gentle touch of a friend from the pew behind in a quiet moment of prayer

6. cards containing words of friendship across many miles on my desksitting quietly with my gifts is like opening the flood-gates of my mind...once i will my mind to think on these beautiful things, they come streaming forth in a torrent. gratitude begets gratitude...it grows exponentially in its consideration. it is the perfect way to warm the heart at twilight on a damp january eve...

08 January 2008

let's break bread together...

when we traded our sophisticated southern city digs for a return to the country life & D.'s grad school, we thought at first that we had moved in a backward direction. not so! both of us grew up in fairly rural areas & being back in the country became a breath of fresh air...literally! & this particular move found us surrounded by some lovely farmland & even more lovely folks working it. the farm across the road was of great interest to our then-small children (ages 2, 4, 7 & 8). watching the farmer plow with a team of mules held their attention for many hours.
this was also the time we began homeschooling the girls. i took direction from their natural zest for learning about everything around them & began to call upon folks who lived in our area. we visited a sheep farm run by a woman who also spun, dyed & wove her own wools into the most beautiful creations. we visited a goat farm to learn about the care of the animals, their milking & the making of goat cheese (yum!). we visited & rode at a newly established horse farm. & finally, we went across the country road to ask the dairy farmer if we could visit there too.

the wonderful family working the farm graciously offered my children & i a "field trip" that changed our entire stay in that area. B. & her husband were a young amish couple with children the same ages as our children. over the year & a half that we lived there, B. & i forged a friendship that i hold so dear in my heart. we shared work, errands, children's play times, meals, & some sad times. i learned more about cooking & baking & preserving in that short time than i did in all the years preceding.

as our lives change, B. & i remain in touch the old-fashioned way...letters & a very occasional visit when i return to PA. & i think of her every time i use one of her delicious recipes...

the very favorite thing i learned to make in B.'s kitchen was whole wheat bread.kneading this bread is a very tangible connection to the countless women before me who have done the very same thing. the rhythm of kneading calms my spirit. the baking of this bread is warms the heart & soul of all nearby...certainly it is the aroma of heaven, or at the very least, heaven's kitchen! the children, still to this day, cannot wait to slice & butter a piece of it. if only i could post the aroma for you to enjoy. but for what's cooking wednesday, the recipe will have to do...

whole wheat bread

in a large bowl mix together 3-1/2 c. warm water, 2 T. yeast, 1/2 c. olive oil, & 1/2 c. honey, let this mix set for 15 minutes to form a sponge
after 15 minutes, add 1 egg (beaten) & 1 T. salt to the sponge, mixing well
then add approx. 7-8 c. whole wheat flour to the mix...turn onto a floured board & knead for approx. 5 minutes
place dough in a large greased bowl & let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes
after 30 minutes punch the dough down & let rise 30 more minutes.
grease 2 large & 3 small baking pans...add dough to each pan & let rise one more time (15-30 minutes)bake at 350 for approx. 30 minutes...cool on racks...slice as soon as possible & slather with butter!

06 January 2008

winter cures

aside from the obvious antidotes of coffee (hot!) & chocolate, i am relishing the season's quiet...a quiet like no other time of the year...a quiet made even more beautiful by thin sunlight & candlelight. but what else??...there is the spirit of creativity that lives in a year's beginning...blank pages on the journal of life...open dates across the year of a calendar! what awaits is invigorating. what is the journey without the sharing?...i have found such joy in the delights of others too...
supermarket swooning...! & i thought the fresh market was special.(ok, the fresh market *is* special, but oh la la...)

babies!!...oh no! not me!...but leslie's sidebar has a countdown to the new addition that is mighty close to arriving...& we wait with her in expectant joy!

having the beach to yourself! (all the O people are visiting somepinkflowers!!)color...light...winter photography that makes you breathless...eb has posted her magic & i have decided to sit a spell with my coffee & enjoy!

a six course meal in trondheim norway... but if you can't make that journey, at least you can enjoy the lovely photos & delightful recipes via the blue cafe! or perhaps find a luscious place to eat in your own town...thinking about blogging every single day for 2008...some of my blog buddies are doing the real deal with words...me~~ i'm doing a photo diary for this year over at snap 366. i may not be able to get the post up on the actual day (some of our travels this year might not allow it), but i have promised myself to take a picture (or 2 or 20 or 200...) every single day. depending on my mood & the shots, one will be blogged for each day it was shot. this has given me a whole new appreciation for the world around me...i look for, i expect, i accept beauty with my eyes wide open for this year!

04 January 2008

arctic blasts

wallowing in nearly 80 degree weather came to an abrupt end here by the bay as january schmanuary delivered a sensory jolt, a late Christmas present maybe?...a morning low temperature of 17. i am sure Little Man will let me know if i am in error here, but that's what the thermometer said! i had a split second of wishful thinking...did i transpose the numbers...was it really 71. a crack of the door to release hound patrol for morning business told me i had it right the first time...17. degrees. Fahrenheit. not Celsius.

what's a warm weather gal to do in times like these?

oh, i'll tell you! follow the wisdom of the hound patrol...

wrap yourself in fur...or at least something with the warming capabilities of fur~~ things like wool socks, flannel jammies, soft & thick bathrobes

find a good sunbeam & take a nap in it

lay down on the very softest thing by the fire

go outside (you need fresh air)...but hurry back inside!

find a good blankie & wrap yourself up

distractions are good...every once & awhile mosey into the kitchen for a bite to eat (yes, there is a fresh batch of Christmas cookies available for the next round of visitors!)

hang out with boyworld-on-vacation...their unique sense of adventure is always entertaining...

speaking of boyworld...how are they coping with the cold weather & Christmas break?? well, tonight as i made my goodnight-rounds, i found them enjoying this little gem...

will it blend: the garden hose edition

i could not believe my eyes! there are seemingly hundreds of videos of this science-type testing the blendability of just about anything you could imagine using a blendtec (new to me...i want one!) blender. after watching the blending of light bulbs, iPods (why???), magnets, & nutcrackers, i am left wondering if the boys will heed the scientific advice offered on each video..."do not try this at home." yeah, right. my poor, poor blender...may you be spared!

& with that, i bid you buona notte as i settle down for a long winter's nap (one likely plagued with dreams of things blended)!

01 January 2008

buon capodanno!

may your new year be blessed...may 2008 be the dawn of something beautiful...may your memories be good friends for the journey...& may your burdens be light...have a joyful 2008!!!