We found out on the Winter Solstice the sex of our new baby (who will hopefully be making an appearance sometime mid-May). We waited until Christmas Day to share the news with our families. I wanted to do something cute, since we weren't having an actual Baby Reveal Party which we had had for Nye-Nye (there is something to be said for being the first grand-child on BOTH sides of the family).
After everyone went to bed on Christmas Eve, I spent two hours decorating T-shirts for our families to open on Christmas Day. I've never worked with fabric markers before and was surprised with how time-consuming the process was...maybe I should have also gotten the fine-tip markers. But overall, I'm pretty happy with how they turned out.
Here is the video of my parents opening up their present and finding out whether their predictions were correct...
Saturday, December 29, 2012
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
|English: A lit candle in the dark Español: Una vela encendida en la obscuridad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Like much of the country, I've been overwhelmed with the horror of the recent school shootings in Newtown, CT.
Saturday night, I made my first batch of beeswax candles. When I bought the supplies for the candles, my intention was to make some home-made Christmas presents. Now, I think I'm going to use most of them to light in memory of those that were lost.
If you are looking for a simple way to channel your feelings about the shooting, I know I found comfort in making candles to honor the victims. It was surprisingly easy to do. It only took me around an hour or so to make 12 candles. Once you get the hang of it, I'm sure it will take less time.
I think this could be an appropriate activity for 3rd graders and up. Younger children could help with some of the steps, but I think an adult with very steady hands should probably pour the wax into the mold.
Here is my post showing the video that I used to learn how to make the candles. The only thing I did differently was dip the entire wick in the melted wax. This made the wick more wire-like and made threading the wick through the mold much easier. You can also use vegetable oil instead of the silicone release spray.
I found my beeswax at the Baltimore Farmers' Market. The small flat braid wicking was purchased from Michaels. I borrowed my Mother's ancient candle taper mold which ended up leaking and creating lopsided tips. Not the most perfect candles but made with love.
Friday, December 14, 2012
|Linden (Photo credit: Lennixx)|
Now, Linden is my go-to herb when I'm feeling anxious or having a bout of insomnia. (And, it's safe to use while pregnant, for all those Pregnant Mamas out there). It's the only herb I've discovered that really helps me fall asleep. Interestingly, you need to make sure not drink Linden tea within 2 hours of taking your vitamins. Linden can interfere with vitamin absorption.
I find it fascinating how every plant reacts differently to everyone. One must really experiment and try each plant for yourself.
Over the last few years, I tried various herbs all known for their sedative properties. Passionflower only has a mild affect on me, Lemon Balm tastes lovely but doesn't make me sleepy, Chamomile gives me a belly-ache and neither Skullcap nor Valerian work for me. Only Linden has had much of an affect on my body.
Have you tried any of these herbs? What worked for you?
Remember, there is a difference between a medicinal tea and drinking tea for pleasure. Here is my post on how to make a medicinal tea or infusion. Also, don't forget to get the okay first with your Family Doctor. Hope this helps!
Toddlers are a lot of fun. A lot of work but the curiosity, the silliness, the joyfulness usually balances it all out. (Usually).
As anyone who has any experience with toddlers knows - repetition is part of package. Some books are easier to read 40 time a day. Some songs are easier to listen to on repeat for hours on end.
Nye-Nye has really gotten into making up her own songs. Frequently, she will use the name Lola in her songs. I thought she would enjoy hearing another version of a "Lola" song, so I showed her a video of the Kinks performing "Lola" at a 1973 show. It was a hit. A little bit too much of a hit!
Now when we are at home, "Lola" is on constant repeat. When the song ends, I hear this insistent little voice say, "Lola, again." It's kind of hard to resist that voice. So, Lola it is....over and over all day. Luckily, it's a good song.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Guess what I found while packing up last night? A copy of my Wedding Vows! It was perfect timing because there is nothing like Moving to bring out the Grouch in everyone. My husband and I have been bickering A LOT during the last week. So, finding my Vows was a good reminder to be extra-kind to each other during this stressful time.
You came into my life unexpectedly and I resisted at first. You promised that all you needed was one chance and you were right. I have learned that you stand behind your promises. Today, I make you the ultimate promise. I promise to spend the rest of our lives together as your Beloved.
I found inspiration in the Buddhist precepts for my vows.
I promise to wake up each morning with the following intentions.
May I be generous and helpful.
May I be faithful.
May I be patient and forgiving.
May I be energetic and persevering.
As we start our life together as husband and wife, I look forward to us living life with a joint purpose. I look forward to us loving each other and shining together in that love. Let us grow together whenever possible and understand the other's growth when separate from our own. Let us not swerve from the path of our love, devotion, and commitment and friendship with each other. May we both remember to be complementary and peaceful in our thoughts, speech, actions and feelings.
You are my mirror, my journal where I will record my history. you will help me know myself and remember myself. I promise to be your mirror, your journal.
Monday, November 26, 2012
|beeswax candles (Photo credit: The Year of Mud)|
I am always on the look-out for fun and useful crafts to give as Christmas presents. My Mama already has a candle mold, so all I have to do is buy a few pounds of beeswax from a local bee-keeper and hunt down a good source for wicks.
Obviously, this is not a toddler-friendly craft. But, you can't have everything, right?
The video is kinda long at 13 minutes, but it answered all my questions on how to make beeswax tapers. This would be a terrific craft to do with older Elementary and Middle-school students on a rainy or snowy day. Enjoy!
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
I have always considered myself a rather Spiritual person. I remember being 8 years old, sitting on our stone fence, looking out at those gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, contemplating Life and its Meaning.
Since becoming a Mama, my mediation pillow hasn't seen much action and my private little altar has gathered some serious dust. I haven't mediated regularly this past year. Nor, have I prayed much.
But, what I have done is think of "Five Things I'm Grateful For" every night before I go to bed.
I can actually give credit to my Blog for jump-starting the habit. Last November, I decided to write out a daily list of "Five Things I'm Grateful For." It stuck.
Some nights, I struggle to come up with five. Other nights, I just keep going and going. It's a really peaceful way to end your day. I'm looking forward to introducing the concept to my daughter, in a few years. Nothing like Gratitude to cut through all the muck in your life.
|Illustration of a pear variety from the Herefordshire Pomona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
She cored and peeled the pears, while I sprinkled a little bit of this and a little bit of that until it was just right. I got inspiration from several different recipes, but was concerned when I turned on the Slow Cooker that maybe I over-did it on the number of ingredients.
No worries. They turned out heavenly. Even Papa, who rarely eats his fruits and vegetables, raved about them.
I'm thinking about cooking another batch for Thanksgiving. It's a super-simple, quick dessert that anyone, including kids, can make and it offers a slightly healthier alternative to all those pies and whip-creme.
15 or so Pears cored and peeled
2/3 a cup of Brown Sugar (couldn't find the Maple Syrup, otherwise I wouldn't have used the Brown Sugar)
3 tablespoons of Butter
3 teaspoons of Ginger Powder (didn't have any fresh or would have used that)
2 Cinnamon sticks
1 cup of Apple Cider
1/2 cup of White Wine
Cook in Slow Cooker for 4 hours or until they are nice and soft. Unless, you prefer yours to still have a minor bite to them. Doesn't get much easier than that, does it?
I am awful grateful for all those free pears and for that lovely, nameless person who planted that tree many, many years ago.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
|Moving Boxes (Photo credit: Justin Shearer)|
We are only moving 4 miles away. Now that we are the throes of packing, I've become sentimental about this little place. My daughter was 5 months when we moved here and she will turn 20 months, tomorrow. It has treated us well this home.
What I am very, very thrilled about is moving from a basement apartment to a duplex with our own back-yard. Nye-Nye will have more room to run around (both inside and outside) and the Living Room is full of light. There are numerous walking trails near-by and we will only be 2 1/2 miles from one of my favorite places in NOVA, River Farm. I am very grateful.
Monday, November 12, 2012
|Day 72/365 (Photo credit: SuperFantastic)|
Every Thursday from 5:30 pm -7 pm, Veterans can walk into AVAC and be treated with the NADA (Ear) Protocol. Five tiny needles are placed in both ears, while the person sits fully clothed in circle with other people receiving treatment. Treatment usually lasts for 30-45 minutes.
Acupuncture is being used at Walter Reed Medical Center to help returning Vets deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and flashbacks. NADA Protocol has successfully helped people dealing with trauma sleep better and experience less irritability, stress and anxiety.
My hat goes off to those volunteer Acupuncturalists providing this wonderful service to those who have sacrificed so much for this Country. Pretty inspiring stuff!
If you know of any Vets (or their families) living in Maryland or Virginia, please let them know about this program. Spread the word. Much appreciation...
Sunday, November 11, 2012
The Day Before Sandy. Bringing in the newspaper during her morning ritual with Papa.
During Sandy. Making noodles for Slippery Chicken Pot-Pie with Ra-Ra and Aunt Mimi.
During Sandy. So much fun rolling out the dough.
During Sandy. Helping Ra-Ra with her Holiday Clove Ball.
After Sandy. Making Elderberry Syrup.
After Sandy. Driving around the area, assessing the damage. Thankfully, not as much as there could have been if the Hurricane had moved slower through our area.
After Sandy. Getting some much needed fresh air.
After Sandy. Who can resist a giant pile of sawdust? Not Nye-Nye. She had loads of fun exploring Papa's Cabinet-shop.
After Sandy. Helping Ra-Ra again on this Never-Ending project.
After Sandy. Getting a good look at all the fields. Thankfully, Papa got in all the soybeans before Sandy arrived.
After Sandy. A much deserved nap.
Friday, November 9, 2012
On Sunday, my daughter went to her first Auction. My Mama had gotten some news in the morning that a friend in his nineties had died. She started beating herself up for not having called him back recently, so I agreed to go to the "Emmitsburg Auction" and help distract her.
We didn't exactly start off on a great note. As soon as we pulled up to the Auction, Nye-Nye threw up. Thankfully, I had an extra pair of clothes....but no extra coat. Even after a fierce scrubbing, her coat still smelled like vomit the entire afternoon.
Taking a toddler to a place where there is tons of breakable things within reach was NOT the easiest thing to do. There was a huge section of matching dishes displayed inside. Needless to say, I carried her quickly through the interior space to outside where there more space to run around. She was definitely the only child under the age of 5 at the Auction. If you plan on taking a toddler to an Auction, I definitely DON'T recommend going by yourself.
Nye-Nye and I slowly meandered through all the aisles, eventually giving most things (especially the furniture) a once over. There was tons of junk...but I pointed out the pieces I liked to my Mama and gave her a limit on how high I wanted to go.
Nye-Nye and I were both cranky after an hour, so we headed to the car and let my Mama try her luck. She came back an hour and 1/2 later with lots of goodies.
The first photo is of the child's tool bench Nye-Nye decided makes an excellent perch. I think my Mama paid $3 for it.
My favorite item is the giant Persian rug bought for $25. It's in amazing shape and is going to look lovely in our new Living Room. Can you believe the size of this rug?
I am also excited about the mirror side-table I found. I've been spying similar pieces on different design blogs for hundreds of dollars. How much did I pay? $18. There is a minor issue of having to replace one piece of glass. The photo was taken after my Step-father had patiently removed the cracked piece. Even with the cost of replacing the damaged mirror, it's still a steal.
I'm probably going to cover the ottoman with a different pattern...but that project will wait until after our move and after the Holidays. If I can't clean the chair sufficiently, I going to attempt to re-upholster it. For $20, I couldn't pass it up.
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Goat cheese has become my magic cure-all. I've started to add goat cheese to my quinoa and bam....instant yumminess. Nye-Nye LOVES to help stir in the cheese and has declared the combination "GOOD," as she widens her eyes and nods her head.
I've also began to add some wilted greens to the mix. It makes a terrific lunch.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Instead of dressing up in her dragon costume and going out in the World to collect bags of candy this Halloween, my daughter helped me make "Elderberry Syrup".
She helped pour the 1/2 cup of dried Elderberries I got from Frontier Herbs into the pan. She carefully added the tablespoon of crushed ginger, the cinnamon stick, and the 5 cloves to the mix. She then stirred the mixture for a few minutes (totally unnecessary...but she was having so much fun).
Together we added the 2 cups of water and then I put the pan on the stove. I covered it and brought it to a boil and then down to a simmer for 15 minutes.
She watched as I strained the mixture and used a spoon to squeeze out all the liquid from the berries. "HOT, HOT, HOT," she reminded me. Together, we sampled the syrup after it cooled.
I had hoped to gather some Elderberries this summer but only found bushes along side the road (a Big No-No when making your own herbal medicine).
By the time I had finally gotten my act together and decided to order some Elderberries from my Go-to-Herb-Store, Mountain Rose Herbs, they were sold out!
This was the first time I had ever bought anything from Frontier Herbs and I've been happy with their service and their product.
I had to buy a 1 lb bag of dried organic Elderberries which at $21 seems expensive. But...when you look at an 8 oz bottle of Commercial Elderberry Syrup costing $16, you quickly realize how much money you can save by making your own!
Each member of my family will be taking a tablespoon of Elderberry Syrup every day this Flu and Cold Season. Hopefully, all those wonderful immune-boosting flavonoids will keep us all healthy this Winter (or at least lessen the length of our sickness).
I'm taking a tablespoon every hour to help subdue the virus I caught, a few weeks ago. I know Elderberry works best at the beginning of a cold or flu...but we'll see if it helps a little.
Check out this nice video on how to make your own! Enjoy and stay healthy this Winter...
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Not very festive here. My hacking cough prevented us from going Trick or Treating tonight. Sandy canceled the fun we had planned at Del Ray's Annual Halloween Parade on Saturday.
We've been hunkered down here in the country (where ironically we still don't have power...while our basement apartment 8 blocks from the Potomac is fine). Thank Goodness for generators! Hope you had a oodles of Halloween fun today!
Friday, October 26, 2012
|English: A bundle of organic beets from a local farm food co-op program. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Our latest discovery, involves Beet Greens.
Papa Bear grilled some amazing Rockfish and paired it with some wilted Beet Greens. Utter perfection.
Our visiting friends declared the Beet Greens good enough to eat as a meal on their own. I'll have to try that soon for lunch.
What did Papa Bear add to the Beet Greens? Capers, Feta Cheese and Red Wine Vinegar. Now, that's what I call a little jazz...
Thursday, October 25, 2012
|Barley (Photo credit: freefotouk)|
The other night, I made this simple barley dish that got two thumbs up from both Papa Bear and myself. The most difficult thing about the dish was timing. It takes an hour for the barley to cook, so this is not a meal you can whip up (unless you already have some pre-cooked barley). But with a little planning, it's crazy simple.
1 cup of Pearl Barley
12 cups Water
Salt to taste
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
4 Minced Ramps (or 2 Shallots or an Onion)
1 Teaspoon of Crushed Red Pepper
2 Teaspoons of Unsalted Butter
2 Teaspoons Fresh Chopped Basil (yay....to still have some growing outside)
1 Cup of Spaghetti Sauce
1 Bouillon Cube
Black Pepper to taste
Bring the water to a boil. Add salt and the barley, simmer (uncovered) for an hour. Drain and set aside.
Heat Olive Oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the minced ramps (or shallots or onions) with the crushed red pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in butter and the already cooked barley.
Cook, tossing frequently until completely warmed. Add the basil, spaghetti sauce and bouillon cube. Stir some more. Cook for 1 minute.
Season with salt and pepper. Enough for an entree for 2 adults (plus some left-overs for lunch).
The only thing I would do next time is add some greens and maybe some diced bell peppers. This is destined to become one of out family's regular meals. Easy, cheap and nutritious. Done, done and done.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
We've been down and out for the last two weeks or with lots of coughing, runny noses and such stuff. I haven't had any energy to finish the numerous posts I began! So, parden me as I repost something from last Fall...
What does a "Former Black Panther" and a Nurse from the "Bataan Death March" have in Common?
Both of them used sliced onions and sugar to make cough syrup.
I was talking to my mother last week about my Failed Experiment and she suggested next time I make some onion syrup. She said Lou told her about it years and years ago.
Lou was a friend of my mother's from back in her Marchin' and Protestin' Days. I'm not sure if they met at "Resurrection City" or if it was later. Lou would leave his house in Anacostia and come to our farm for some fresh air several times a year.
Sometimes, Lou's son (who lived with his mother on a Lesbian Commune) would also join us. He took his daughter to her first March when she was 6 weeks-old and introduced my family to Pow-Wow Dancing. Lou had a painting of Che Guevara in his hallway, a porch swing in his living room and mirrors in his bedroom. He went down to Mexico in the mid-1990's and worked with the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Growing up, I was in awe of Lou.
So, when my Mama told me about Lou making onion cough syrup, I smiled. She also mentioned that she had recently read about nurses using the same method during the Bataan Death March. She had a cough, so she made a batch. Super-duper easy...
To make the syrup....
1. Slice the onions in very, very thin slices.
2. Cover with sugar.
3. Wait 24 hours for the sugar to meld with the juice from the onion.
4. Refrigerate and use within two weeks.
I tasted it and it was decent. I think a young kid might even swallow it. I haven't decided, yet, if I'm going to give it to Lina next time she has a cough. I don't know about the sugar. But I have a feeling, if it's really bad and I have nothing else, you will find me slicing up some onions.
****Just a Reminder, I'm not a MD, so please check with your Doc before taking this syrup. Thanks.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
One of the most Talented-Hit-Me-in-the-Gut-With-Her-Wisdom authors that I've stumbled across recently is the writer, Karen Maezen Miller. She's a Mama and a Zen Teacher.
Her book, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood, is a treasure. I've underlined half the book. No joke.
Here is one of my favorite passages,
And yet there is such a thing as happiness. There is such a place as bliss. When you drop your expectations, forget your grievances, give up your worries, abandon the plan, stop your striving, let it out, let it go, let things pass, take a breath, take a break, quiet down, be still, empty your mind, open your heart, and come alive, what else is there to be but happy?
I know I feel so much happier when I let go of all the hundreds of little annoyances that occur when spending the day with a toddler. My daughter constantly reminds me of the folly of clinging TOO tightly to my plan. She reminds me that it's not the end of the world when I don't get my way. She reminds me to frequently take deep breaths. Whenever I start feeling resentful or stressed out, I need to read this passage again.
Karen Maezen Miller will be in D.C. teaching the The Art of Non-Parenting: Discovering the Wisdom of Easy on October 20th and Deeper Still: A Breath and Meditation Workshop on October 21st. $40 for each workshop. I can't wait.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
I having been meaning to share this lovely short film. It's called "The Calmest Revolution Ever Stage" and is about the Community Acupuncture Movement. The film does an excellent job explaining the idea behind the Community Acupuncture Movement and the potential the movement has to change lives and entire communities.
If you have ever had an acupuncture treatment, you've probably experienced the amazing calmness and well-being you feel afterwards. If you haven't, do yourself a favor. Turn off the T.V. for 35 minutes and watch this video. And then check out POCA's website.
Since my family has been working on cultivating a bit more calmness and peace in our lives, I thought this would be a nice time to post this video....Enjoy...
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
|Shiitake mushrooms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
I made a batch of "Creamy Mushroom Soup" on Tuesday (with a little help from my daughter...she helped stir the onions and shallots, threw all the mushrooms in the pot and helped me collect the thyme) and it was a big hit with all three of us.
It took about 30 minutes to prep and make and is a very doable week-day meal. Here are the ingredients I used in this particular batch...
1 yellow onion
1 pint of shiitake mushrooms
1 pint of baby bella mushrooms
3 shot glasses of Golden Dry Sherry
splash of lemon juice
handful of thyme
4ish tablespoons of flour
1/2 pint of cream
4 cups of water
pinch of sea salt
pinch of pepper
1. Saute onions and shallots in butter with a bit of thyme until they are transparent.
2. Add mushrooms. Sprinkle in some more thyme, a shot glass of sherry and a splash of lemon juice. Cook until mushrooms start shrinking (4-6 minutes).
3. SLOWLY start sprinkling in flour. Stir rigorously until you can't see any flour. Sprinkle more. Repeat procedure until there is a decent thick paste (probably about 4 tablespoons).
4. Add cream, water, salt, pepper, some more thyme (if you like) and the rest of the sherry. Bring to a boil and then immediately put it on simmer for at least an hour (this batch I kept simmering for 2 hours).
Remember soup ALWAYS tastes better the next day....but this is pretty decent immediately (especially if you simmer it for a while). Happy Soup-Makin'!
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
My Mama's tomatoes are still going gang-buster. As much as I love a simple tomato salad, it's starting to get a little old eating one every day. So, now I've turned to making loads of "Gazpacho". Here's what I throw in the blender to make some cold, delicious soup in under 15 minutes...
- 5-8 tomatoes
- 1-2 bell peppers (I think yellow and orange bell peppers work better in the soup than green ones)
- a few stalks of celery
- fresh basil leaves
- 1 shallot
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 2 Bouillon cubes
- sea salt
- ground black pepper
- splash of lemon juice
- splash of Red Wine Vinegar
- splash of Worcestershire Sauce
Chill in the fridge for a hour. As with most soups, it takes better the next day!
Saturday, September 22, 2012
On Tuesday, Papa Bear and I celebrated our 2nd Wedding Anniversary.
He had to work late but he sweetly brought home two fruit tarts for us to share. Sadly, we both passed out from exhaustion after we put our daughter to bed (and before we could devour those tarts together). Our Anniversary, didn't work out as planned (including our Anniversary Beach Trip where I ended up with a migraine for 2 of the 3 days).
Like Weddings (Life, in general)....things rarely go as planned (this is something difficult for my husband "the Planner" to accept).
One part of our "Bollywood Farm Wedding," I was really looking forward to was taking 15 minutes after we got married to hide away in a secret spot and be TOGETHER. I wanted a few peaceful, quiet minutes to savor together without being bombarded by the music and all the well-wishes from our very loving friends and family.
My husband didn't get it but he agreed to my idea. I had this idea that we would rush up the hill after getting married and race into the room we had chosen. And, then we would spend those 15 minutes feeling super-connected and staring into each other's eyes. It didn't happen that way...and that's okay.
We were constantly stopped on our way there, so it ended up taking at least 20 minutes to get there. I also didn't take into consideration how hyper and excited my husband gets in social settings. He was bouncing off the walls and peaking out the window to look at everyone. Not exactly the peace I was imagining but it was still a very special, beautiful time.
We talked about the ceremony and my dress and how amazing everything was while I put on more make-up. We tried to figure out where the van was going that we spied leaving (very generous friends were making a beer run ALREADY). We hugged and kissed and maybe squealed a little. It was just what we needed.
So, I try and tell folks planning their wedding, how very nice it is to have those little moment of Peace tucked into your schedule.
I will always treasure ours....Happy 2nd Anniversary Papa Bear!!!! Cheers to many, many more....I Lava You....
(Here I am in my parent's bathroom. This is the room we ended up being secluded in..no photos were taken during those 15 minutes, so this will have to do.)