Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What to Do When You Are Sick of Summer Tomatoes? Gazpacho Soup.

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

Finding a Peaceful Moment Together During Your Wedding Day

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.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Helping a Toddler Find Inner Peace and Calm


Right now, we are smack in-the-middle-of-the-twos...except that my daughter is about to turn 18 months. Loads of tantrums. Loads of frustration. CONSTANTLY.

One thing I have been really working on with my kiddo is teaching her how to stop and take a few breaths when she is upset.

A month ago, I started by calmly walking over to her when she had thrown herself on ground and started thrashing and screaming. I would kneel down by her and gently place my hands on her chest and say, "take a deep breath, my Love, take a deep breath."  I would then take 4 or 5 deep breaths to show her how it was done. It would take 10 seconds or so for her to listen, take some deep breaths and to calm down. I did this "every time she had a tantrum" (which some mornings was like once every 10 minutes).

It didn't take long for her to grasp the concept. Now, when I see a tantrum about to erupt, I say, "okay, take some deep breaths."  And, she does immediately. Frequently, we are able to nip that tantrum in the bud. She is able to remain calm and communicate with me what is frustrating her.

It's awe-inspiring seeing this little person take control of her feelings and learn how to find a little Inner Calmness.

I have also found that I am having more patience throughout the day - because I am pausing and taking more deep breaths.....when I am about to have my own melt-down. It's so simple, yet, so easy to forget to do.

When I am about to lose it, I tell her, "Mommy, is very frustrated right now and needs to sit down and take some deep breaths." Knowing she is watching my every move makes me more committed to staying calm and focusing on my breath.

Our days are much more peaceful (for now). And, I am very, very grateful.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Places I Find Peace....River Farm

One of my favorite things about living in the D.C./Northern Virginia/Maryland area is the overwhelming amount of interesting places to visit. Yesterday, my daughter and I finally made it out to River Farm...a place I've been meaning to visit for many months now.

This was our third attempt. The first time I got lost (it's difficult to find, particularly when you leave the address behind) and the second time, we arrived at 4:50 pm to only find out that it closes at 5 pm.

I had heard wonderful things about the place, especially the Children's Garden. My expectations were blown out of the water.

It's an absolutely beautifully maintained, charming spot with countless serene nooks and crannies. And the Children's Gardens contain some of the most well-thought and inspirational children's out-door play spaces I have ever seen. It's the kind of place you wish you had visited when you were a kid.

It's hard to believe this spot is only 7 miles from my home. It feels worlds and lifetimes away. Utter peace.

River Farm was purchased by George Washington in 1760. He leased the property to his personal secretary (who ended up marrying his niece). Several generations of Washingtons lived at River Farm until 1850 when it was purchased by a dairy-running Quaker family.

A horticulture-loving gentlemen bought the farm in 1919 and added many of the beautiful features still around today. The American Horticulture Society is currently headquartered at River Farm and they have created one of my favorite features...the Meadow.

Originally, there were 4 acres of rolling lawns that sloped down to the river. The AHS has turned those 4 acres into a wild sea of native grasses and plants - home to foxes, butterflies, hawks and eagles.  Amazing.

River Farm has definitely jumped to the top of our "Beautiful Places to Run Around and Get Our Energy Out This Winter." Did I mention it's free?

Photo Courtesy of The Photo Garden Bee

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Making Peace with Mosquitoes (Or Not)

Ochlerotatus notoscriptus, Tasmania, Australia
Ochlerotatus notoscriptus, Tasmania, Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
During this Month, I am supposed to be writing about Peace. We are almost half way through the Month and I haven't started...I better get hopping.

This post is kind of a stretch....but I've been meaning to write about my Bug Repellent Recipe for a while.

So, how have I made peace with living in area infested with mosquitoes?

Filling lots of mason jars with sand, sticking incense in the jars and placing them around us while we are playing or working in the back-yard.

And by religiously applying my "Homemade Bug Spray" whenever we venture outside.

If you do a search, there are gazillions of recipes of Bug Sprays out there. I came up with mine by going to Whole Foods and reading the ingredient list of several different "Natural Bug Sprays" (including Burt's Bees).

I decided on my final ingredient list based on what I already had at the house and which Essential oils were the cheapest.

1. Rosemary Oil

2. Witch Hazel

3. Yarrow Tincture

4. Lemongrass Essential Oil

5. Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil

I figured out the proportions by eye-balling it. First, I put in the Rosemary Oil and filled up 1/5th of the bottle. I then judged what 1/10th of the bottle looked like and added that much of the Lemongrass Essential Oil. I did the same for the other Essential Oil. (It's super important that you NOT put too much Essential Oil in the spray because if it's too concentrated it can burn your skin).

I then added as much of the Yarrow Tincture as I could spare (this Summer I was running low on my Yarrow supply, so I couldn't use as much as I would have liked). Susun B. Weed uses ONLY Yarrow Tincture and she swears by it.

Lastly, I topped off the bottle with the Witch Hazel.

I've made about 10 batches or so this Summer. Overall, I've been fairly happy with the results. It's not perfect but works pretty well. The Mosquitoes chow down on any areas that I missed spraying with the repellent. When any of us go out without it on, we get eaten alive. This Bug Spray has definitely brought my family some peace over the last few months.

I am sad to see Summer go...but not the mosquitoes!

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Saying Good-bye to Summer

Summer has just seemed to sneak on by somehow. Sorry about the absence the last few weeks. We've been busy spending lots of time visiting Ra-Ra and Pa-pa on the Farm. Little Miss spent 11 straight days there (4 of them without Mama). She is becoming a proper Country Girl.
This past Weekend, we had some Good Ole Country Fun. We met some animals at Thurmont's Community Show. We admired Pa-pa's new tractor. We met the neighbor's goat and horse while bumping around on the Bobcat. We collected nuts by the shirtful (documented by Little Miss). We walked down to the River. We picked (and ate) baskets of tomatoes.
It's been bittersweet...these last days of Summer. I am so sorry to see these days go.



Monday, September 10, 2012

Avocado. Word of the Week.

Word of the Week. Avocado. (More like cav-co...). Dirt, dead (as in the battery is dead), up please, egg, car keys, needle, all done, all gone, undies, scar, plum, spoon, phone, broom, yellow, forehead, eye-brow, chin

Mannerism. Covering face when she knows she has "made a bad choice" (i.e. hitting, kicking, etc...)

Skill. Putting on her velcro Mary Janes all by herself and getting her undies on one leg (getting them on both legs is still too difficult)

Favorite material. Animal cards. I have been putting out on her shelf about 7-8 Animal Kingdom Goosie Cards at a time. She has been having a blast identifying the different animals and watching video clips of each animal to hear the actual sound each one makes.

A few weeks ago, I offered my daughter a piece of chicken. She immediately made a chicken sound and ran to find the chicken card. The smile on her face when she brought the card to me was blinding. I was stunned. I hadn't even been thinking about her animal cards.

Watching this little person start to make all these connections is totally awe-inspiring. It's those moments that help me forget the tantrums and the sleeplessness, the constant interruptions and the long, long days.
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