Thursday, January 31, 2013

Evolution and Getting Lost in the Weeds

 January has come and gone in a blink, yet not the whirlwind that typically accompanies such a passage of time.  I felt every minute of it.  I guess that comes from reflecting upon your goals and trying to determine which of the expectations that you have are real versus those you have simply put far too much weight on. As we look at how we have evolved in the last six years, and how we continue to, we have matured and learned that some of the ideals that we have staunchly lived by  maybe should have been less rigid, ebbing and flowing with the realities that we face.  It is so interesting how stubborn deep seeded some of these feelings dwell,  yet the same circumstance to someone else is trivial.  The type A me has just got to let it go. :)

Earlier this week I joined a planning committee for a local non-profit.  I had not sit in on a meeting like this before, so early in the goal setting process  that timelines for accomplishment were just being lain;  like the bricks of a foundation.  It was difficult for all of us not to not "get lost in the weeds" during the discussion, being so eager to put forth ideas and add some more bricks and mortar, before the base layer was dry. 

I read this article today and it was fascinating.  It wonders: have we ever left high school?  The discussion involves brain development, memories, and how we have evolved as social human beings. It goes further to hint at how we perpetuate our experiences, during this pivotal development time (15-25),  both in ourselves as we age and with our children. 

As January merges to February I see that our evolution must move forward by taking our past development with all of its rich lessons and giving ourselves permission to get out of the weeds and continue building on our solid foundation; journeying down our less traveled by road. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Stuff

::  AAhhhchooo!  That is all we seem to be hearing today from Charles.  After years of allergies and different medications prescribed by his doctor for management, he began with a persistent cough 6 months ago queueing a new protocol.   The kid never complains...ever...which allows some time to go by, and I'll notice times when his symptoms are worse again, and this dry little throat clearing cough and seemingly more frequent episodes of wheezing are really bugging me.  So, why is he so miserable this weekend in particular?  Well he heads to the allergist on Tuesday and they want him 3 full days without any meds so he can be thoroughly tested.    Hmm we are now about 36 hours in, and he is walking around with a Kleenex box.  So, I guess the cocktail that he has been on is helping after all!  Hopefully, we will have some more comprehensive answers soon.

::  I received the beautiful felted stone from Julochka in the mail yesterday.  It makes a nice addition to my growing collection of smooth stones and sea glass.  It is so fun getting a little package in the mail with postmarks from Denmark.  Made me smile!

::  I really have been enjoying a few episodes of Extra Virgin.  I love the rustic Italian recipes.  I made the above linked take on a tuna salad sandwich today and it was appreciated by all.

::  We made some significant strides this morning on the barn project.  We re-organized much of the loft and cleared two large sections of the main barn, which are now designated for garden tools and recreational items.  Now we are loading those areas with all of the garden stuff that we have collected over time and had stored in the grainery.  As that empties out B will start construction on his new workshop.  A lot to do, but baby steps, and progress is being made.

::  With freezing rain moving in this afternoon, I think that I will curl up on the couch for a little while and watch a movie with the family, then put some rice pudding on to simmer for a late afternoon snack.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Illusions of Warmth

Light can be deceptive.  It's dancing color may give the illusion of warmth.  Today, the glimpses of late afternoon sun give a false sense of security.  The clear skies as the sun fades, set us up for chills ranging from -20 to -27 degrees overnight.  The kids and I did venture out on this icy day, and after a few short jaunts running in and out of stores, we headed for more permanent shelter from our 6 degree day.  What better way to spend the late afternoon, than cocooned with hot chocolate, candlelight, and good books to pass the time.

If you are interested in illusions, check this out.  I started it last night and it has been very entertaining.  Be safe tonight Wisconsin!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cold Sunsets and Kale Brussels

Driving home from soccer tonight, I had to take a little detour to capture this amazing sunset.  I need to just keep my camera with me all of the time!  It is especially helpful when you pull off the side of the road quickly and put on your hazards.  Once the police officer who happened to be the oncoming car saw me with my window down and the camera, he just cruised on by.  The yellows and golds tonight transported me to the Sahara in summer, amazing since it's winter here.  But thankfully a balmy 40 degrees to melt the last of the weeks ice before the bottom officially drops out later tonight.  We have wind chills well below zero to look forward to the next couple of days.

This truly frigid air that is pending prompted us to make the decision to do the final harvest of our Flower Sprouts ~ Kale/Brussels hybrid.  So in the dusk, we headed outside to pick sprouts.  We planted them in August, and they have been in the garden all winter, and unprotected, AND they are simply beautiful as well as deliciously sweet.  Proof positive that we have had a trend of extremely moderate winter weather to spoil us, allowing us to reap some reward from this concerning pattern.  I hope that if these changed seasons keep up that it does not dull our senses to the reasons behind environmental changes.  We have heard speculation that the Great Lakes area was predicted to become the next great wine region.  If this keeps up, we may need to plant grapes.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Purge Without Binging

A big push for 2013 is to minimize the junk.  Living on a property with a 120 year old barn means that there are a lot of discarded junk mementos from families past.  Last week we had a dumpster delivered in order to do a major purge.  We have accomplished quite a bit for a few short days, but I found that the process so far has been much more complex and led to some discarding, but quite a bit of pile making.  We have the donation pile, mostly old bikes and yard toys, but we are also taking this opportunity to clear the attic and basement, so all of the toddler toys are making a long overdue departure.  Then there is the burn pile, bits of old broken wood planks, etc.  There is the recycle pile which is in the back of the truck and making sporadic runs to the recycling dumpster at the office.  Finally, there is the scrap metal pile....we could actually make a few pennies on this one.  Everything else is trash-able, and we have four weeks to complete the job. 

The trick to clearing, organizing and restructuring our stuff, is not to make room just to go on a shopping spree and add more to a bottomless pit of storage.  No, it is to allow us to utilize what we have so that we can move forward with the farm projects that we have planned.  **We have allowed one binge though, ironic it also came this week.  When B was out riding his bike, he passed an old farm that was throwing out 23 matched storm windows.  He talked to the owners and then loaded them up and we put them in the greenhouse staging area of the barn.  So you see, it is only a very temporary and useful binge.

By the way, a 10 minute walk with camera in hand to take in a few moments of broken sun, is well worth the frigid gale.   It clears the mind (a purge of sorts) and allows you to refocus, just enough to see things in new and interesting ways.  I highly recommend it! 

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Reflect, Learn, Remember, Improve

It seems to be a week of slow food; warming soups, wholesome snacks, actually cooking the things that I pin, a simply lovely start.

While I was making the school runs today and thinking about more recipes to try, I was listening to one of my favorite radio shows.  There are always interesting conversations, and today there was a brief, yet fascinating interview with journalist Holly Finn of the Wall Street Journal that tore my attention away from my mental to do list.  It was about an article that she wrote last week titled 'Know Thyself'.   A fun conversation on a topic that stems from a phrase (coined by Gary Wolf; brief Ted talk here), the quantified self.   There are so many broad implications of today's technology.  Many of them are very exciting, some scary, and much uncharted.  What are you downloading?  How are you integrating technology into your life?  What are you finding out?   Are you 'reflecting, learning, remembering and wanting to improve'?  Talk of the Nation, keep it coming!

Thank you for pausing for station identification.  Now back to our regularly scheduled post....  For an awesome potato soup, check this out!  Oh the molten pepper jack cheese in there was just divine!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Echoing Through the Mist

There is something delightfully spooky about old houses on a foggy morning.

They some how look completely different in the light.  The trees look more ominous, the lines softer, yet more distinct.

It captures the imagination and inspires the mind to wander.  I wonder what history can be heard echoing through the mist?

Thoughts for a Friday

There are few things that I enjoy more than falling asleep to the sound of a steady rain.  But a steady rain on January 10th seems more than a little out of place.  I know, I know, everyone seems to complain about their weather regardless of where they are or what they have got, and though I long for a little bit of snow play, I am not sure mine is so much of a complaint as a worry.  Last year we had such an early spring that my lilacs bloomed in March, they normally bloom mid June!  We had record high temperatures and well below average precipitation.  Many articles that I have read from dozens of sources predict a similar situation this year.  I have already begun to see the signs of truth in this.   Yesterday I noticed that my crocus' had peeked their little curly heads above what should be frozen the beginning of January!  I worry for the hundreds of old trees that aren't getting their thirst quenched sufficiently.   I have been making calls and trying to put some more structural plans (like running water lines) in place for the garden this year, anticipating what may become our new normal. 

After a long hiatus, I began a new knitting project.  I wanted to make an infinity scarf, so I searched around and found an easy pattern that had just the right combination of what I know how to do and some new skills.  I just taught myself how to 'knit in the round'.  Not too bad!

Each morning as I sip my coffee, I peruse flipboard.  The recipe ap on there is fantastic and an endless source of inspiration for me.  I think that I must try this (maybe I'll use the tip I found about using a 6" round and halving a cake recipe) and this looks like breakfast love, must do stat!

Oh and a 20 foot dumpster is being delivered today, but that is a story for another post :)

Happy Friday!

Monday, January 7, 2013


There are a pair of doe that have been living back in the orchard since mid-fall.  I know that we can never really tell, but I feel sure that they are from the same group that lived here last winter.  They appeared with such familiarity and when we catch sight of them nosing around the patchy snow at dusk in the evenings, they always seem to acknowledge our presence. 

Even though we have not had much of a winter to speak of so far, today we began a January thaw.  We have only had a few inches of snow all season but the temperatures have been fairly cold the last few weeks, so temperatures approaching forty degrees, felt pretty good.  It must be that way for all of the wildlife as well.  When I got home at lunch today, one of the doe was at the edge of the drive by the berry patch.  I caught sight of her as I was carrying groceries into the house.  She was probably 30 feet from me, and as I took another load in, I was struck by just how large she is.  When she stands up alert, she is quite close to my height.  She studied me for a few minutes and watched me take in all of my bags before she meandered her way along, perfectly content in the afternoon sunshine.  A few hours later I glanced out the window while I was washing dishes and I saw a red fox slowly trot across the grass, squinting into the sunshine, also looking quite content. 

It is unexpected moments like these that allow me to slow down and truly appreciate the wonder around me, nestled in on the farm.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Weekly Roundup

 It is hard to know what day of the week it is this week.  The holiday compounded with being back to work and school for partial weeks has me all upside down.  Or maybe it is the fact that better than half of my staff either has been or is currently sick with some variation of the funk that is out there right now.  Of course, like the big extended family we are, I needed to only be back in the building 72 hours before I got it. Ugh!

So with a foggy head and a cup of hot lemon honey tea, that I prepped last fall for just such an occasion,  I am going to jot down a little weekly roundup.

Made Me Think:  I heard this interview earlier this week on WPR.  It is with the son of the President of the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek.  He was being interviewed from India where they were burying his father.  During this interview the philosophy of Chardi Kala was presented.  It is the outlook on life reflecting 'high spirits'.  This really spoke to me, such a positive life view.  It is especially humbling to hear how the Sikh strive to emulate this feeling in any circumstance.  A mindset that the whole world would benefit from.

Recipe of the Week:   I made Italian Chicken Soup this week.  Though a little labor intensive it was amazing and just what the doctor ordered as far as comfort food.  I will say that instead of cooking a whole chicken, I used a rotisserie one, and it was wonderful!

A New Project:  Starting off the New Year has led me back to Flickr and a group of photography friends who have spent much of the last four years enjoying one another.   This year's group focus goes nicely with my one word, as it is a weekly postcard 52:2013 (let me know if you'd like to join in!)

Weekend Haps:  Aside from substantial couch time for me, we will spend the weekend both bottling last years wine and putting up a new batch!!   Oh, and how can I forget?  We are eagerly awaiting the season premiere of Downton tomorrow night!

Expecting Something Furry:  Dot seems to be nesting, and we are anticipating babies in the short term, a first bunny litter and the kids are looking forward to it!  You may be inundated with bunny pictures soon! :)


Wednesday, January 2, 2013


 Blood Orange Tart with a Brandy Glaze 

I think it fitting that my first post of 2013 is on the second of January, rather than the first.  Yesterday, as with each January 1st of the last three years, our dinner club got together for a New Year's brunch. We celebrate our friendship and the amazing way that eight people can waltz around a kitchen anticipating each others moves to create beautiful slow food.  The day was full of lively conversation, laughter, kids playing in the snow, and lots and lots of cooking.  Dish after dish of culinary love, the best way we know how to show our appreciation for life and each other.

The last couple of years, I have chosen a word(s) that is a theme for the year.  In 2011 it was cultivate, and in 2012 it was blank pages.   I like choosing a word to focus on, much like a mantra to help maintain focus throughout the year on what is important. When I began to think about what to choose for this year, there was one word that I couldn't shake.  Pace.

   rate of movement
   rate of progress
   an example to be emulated
   rate of performance or delivery
   an exhibition or test of skills or capabilities
   with due deference to (from the Latin for pax, peace)

With life as busy as ever, and many goals to be accomplished, it will be an important mantra for me to maintain pace in a way that is productive, yet not so accelerated that I forget to savor each moment. So posting this on January 2nd instead of the 1st is a conscious effort to begin this year on the right pace.

To get your year off to an amazing start,  you must try this simple and delicious tart!

Blood Orange Tart with Brandy Glaze 
Shortbread Crust:
1 C all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. confectioners sugar
1/2 C butter
Place all ingredients into a bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles a crumble.  Chill for 30 minutes then press into a tart pan (I used a 10")

6 med. oranges
1 (10 oz) jar of sweet orange marmalade
4 tsp. lemon zest
3/4 C lt. brown sugar
6 Tbsp. brandy
Peel oranges, removing all of the pith.  Slice into thin slices and then line the tart pan with them in a curricular pattern.  Mix all remaining ingredients to form a glaze and spoon glaze over oranges (reserving some additional glaze for serving).  Slice and serve.


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