Tuesday, February 28, 2012

People Who Make Us Happy

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." 

Marcel Proust

Sunday, February 19, 2012

If We Had No Winter


If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: 
if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, 
prosperity would not be so welcome.

Anne Bradstreet

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Projects for a Cold Winter Day

What kind of projects do you work on during a cold, winter day? We've recently experienced some weeks of ice and snow. Such weather changes normal routines and alternative activities take their place. Sometimes these activities include cleaning out cupboards and drawers. At my house that resulted in candle tapers of all colors being melted down into a kettle of "latte" colored wax which was poured into odds-and-ends cups and containers to create candles for the cabin and home. There's something relaxing about working on a project out of the daily norm, and rewarding too, as one looks at all the candles lined up on the counter top! It's also fun to learn a new craft. I found a box of yarn, crochet hooks, and instruction books that had been my mothers. My skills are basic at best, but I am learning and growing in my abilities with the crochet hook. Some of my blogging friends post inspiring projects that feature their crochet skills and I visit and revisit their posts and am inspired to continue upon this venture. What kinds of things are you doing during the chilly days of winter?

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Morning Walk

A chilly morning. No sunshine and the weatherman says none for a week. But winter provides its own charm and beauty. A walk about the ponds at the park provide many interesting things to see. There's a beaver trail and fresh chew marks on the beavers chosen tree. A great blue heron flies away because he doesn't like being disturbed. And a pheasant creates lots of noise as Lucy, the dog, flushes it out of the woods. A robin looks puffed up in a tree as he tries to keep warm while a blackbird sings its unique song as we walk by. There's ice on the some parts of the pond and ducks in another. Dried grasses and weeds, rushes, and twigs. There's not much color but monochromatic has an interest all its own. Isn't it fun to find objects of interest all around, even on a winter day?

Friday, February 03, 2012

Customized Calendar Project

Most bloggers have digital files filled with their favorite photographs. There's something about blogging and photography that go hand in hand. But, if you are like me, you have many more pictures than blog posts! Occasionally it is fun to create something with the pictures one has taken. This year I decided to create my own desktop tea calendar. I chose some of my favorite photos from tea parties, china cabinets, tea picnics, and more. There are many companies online that make a project like this simple. It's easy to set up an account and then add your photos to it. They give you the tools to move things around, crop, and edit. Before long a personalized calendar is ready. Print "send" (along with payment, of course) and within a week you'll have your own personalized calendar in your mailbox. My calender this year was tea themed. Last year I used pictures of our son's wedding for a wedding themed calendar. What kind of pictures do you have in your digital files that would work nicely for a calendar?

*Click on the photo to enlarge.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A Friend and a Cuppa Tea

It feels so good to have a friend on whom you can depend.
A friend can help to mend a heart, boost you toward a brand-new start,
clown with carefree schoolgirl glee,
share a quiet cup of tea.
~ Jan Miller ~

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Ana's Dahl

Ana's Dahl

3 cups red dahl or lentils
1 cup sliced or chopped onion
1 - 2 tsp. fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. fresh garlic
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. turmeric
1/4 - 1/3 cup oil

Mix this all together and then add five cups water.
Cook until the dahl is
tender. Serve over rice.
I enjoy recipe sharing and attaching personal memories or people with them. This recipe was shared with me by a friend who recently visited Bangladesh. She received it from Ana, a woman who lives in a village there. I always wonder about Ana when I make this recipe. It's simple, but very tasty.

The Longest Table and Shared Soup

WWU Longest Table

The university that Rylan attends has an annual dinner that is unique and that helps the university students connect with community. The event is called "Longest Table' and brings together a crowd of more than 2,000 students and community members. The main street in town is closed off and one very long table it set up in the middle of the street. It stretches for many blocks. There are a variety of foods at this event, as each person who hosts a section of the table serves a menu that is unique to them, as well as table setting and centerpiece. Sometimes families go together to provide for a larger number of community members. For example, one group of three families got together to make a Mexican fair with a taco bar, salads, cream puffs, flan, and roasts. Another host family provided a lovely meal of sushi and other Japanese food and decor. Each hosts menu is different, but they are all tied together by being served on one long table. I just love the idea! What a way to share with others! And the cost to students and community members who attend is nothing! It is a community event that is designed to draw the students into the community and participants provide it as a volunteer service; a gift from the heart. 

This community service event reminds me of a story I used to read my boys when they were young. I believe that sharing stories that involve food are a great way to tie other subjects to cooking experiences and character development. Here is a story that can be used to teach cooperation, sharing, and self-reliance. It can also be used as a topic starter on problem solving. 


Once upon a time there was a small village.  The sun was going down and it was dinner time. As usual, everyone was in his or her own little house thinking about the same thing --- what shall we have for dinner tonight?  But on this particular night everyone thought and thought for a very long time. There was a problem, and it was a problem that everyone shared. No one had enough food in his or her house to make a dinner. Everyone had the same problem!

Because this was a friendly little town where everyone knew everyone else, the word soon got around. Neighbors were talking about their problems with each other in the street, on front porches, and over back yard fences. They all agreed that something had to be done soon because everyone was getting very hungry.

There was a man in the town who happened to be a very good cook, and as he was thinking about this problem with his wife, she came up with the answer. "We will make a new and different kind of soup called Share Soup, and you will direct the cooking," she said. Her husband thought this was a wonderful idea that his wife had, and as the townspeople in the village found out about the idea they became more and more excited and happy. But what was Share Soup, they asked? The man's wife explained, "Share Soup is a soup you make with a big pot of water and every one's share of food.  If everyone brings their little share of food from home, we can make one big delicious soup for everyone. I call it Share Soup." 

"First we'll need a large pot," he said. The people brought the largest pot they could find. "And now," the man said, "water to fill the pot and a fire to heat it." It took many buckets of water to fill the pot. A fire was built on the main street of the town and the pot was set to boil.

"Soup needs salt and dried herbs," said the man. He began to stir and the children ran to get salt and dried herbs.

"Salt and dried herbs make good soup, but if there were carrots it would taste much better."

"I think I have some carrots," said one woman, and she ran home. She came back with a handful of carrots and put them in the pot.

"Share Soup should really have some cabbage," said one man, and he returned soon with a big head of cabbage which he cut up and put in his pot.

"How I wish we had some potatoes and onions; then this soup would be the most delicious soup ever," the man said. Some children remembered where they'd seen some and hurried home to get them.

A delicious soup --- and all from some water and every one's share of food. It seemed like magic! As the man stirred the soup he thought, "If we had a little rice and a cup of milk, this soup would be the best soup in the whole world." More people ran home to get a little milk and rice. Soon everyone from the town had put in his or her share of food. 

The man who was such a good cook stirred and stirred the soup while everyone watched happily. And then the soup was ready.

"Everyone gets a taste," said the man. "But first, let's set the tables." Great big tables were place in the main street. All around were lighted candles. Such a soup! How good it smelled! It really was the best soup anyone in the town had ever tasted!

*Adapted from Stone Soup, by Marcia Brown

Green Leafy Kale!

This time of year I am eagerly thinking about my spring garden. Tender lettuce greens, baby radishes, carrots, and sweet onions sound so good right now! But instead of dwelling on what isn't available on these cold and snowy days, I'm enjoying winter produce that is abundant in the supermarket these days. One of those is kale, a dark green leafy vegetable that is so good for us! Kale isn't something that my mother cooked, so it was not something that I spent much time with in the kitchen either. If we did have kale, it was steamed and endured. Last summer a lady from a local community supported agriculture program was giving out samples and recipes for baked kale chips at a local health food store. Yum! Were they ever good! Then, a son came to visit, and since he likes to cook, he shared how he makes kale. Another yum! Here's his technique. You can't go wrong! It is delicious!

Brandon's Kale

1 large bunch kale, washed and cut into bite-size pieces
olive oil
2 - 3 cloves garlic, pressed
salt (and pepper if desired)

Heat skillet to medium high heat and place a small amount of olive oil in the pan. Add garlic and brown slightly. Add kale and salt. Stir to kale doesn't get too brown, but allow edges to get 'crispy'. Remove from heat when crispy and the edges are browned to your liking.

May sprinkle with nutritional yeast or Parmesan cheese if desire, but it is delicious plain too!

I've tried this with collard greens too, and it is "just about" as good. Quite delicious, actually. But I really LOVE the kale option!