Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's been a hard days night...

...and I've been working like a dog- hence the lack of posting for over a week!

Too much working- both at the hospital and at home, and at our lovely rental property, too much cleaning, too much painting (as in interior house painting), too much preschool searching and fretting, not enough sleeping, and a whole lot of stressing leads to a near many a nervous breakdown for Hannah. 

Part of my work week this past week was filling in for a full-time staff in my department at the hospital.  This gave me a whole new view of the treatment dynamic.  I sat in on "treatment team" meetings- where a the doctor, nurse, therapist, nursing director, and admission staff meet each day to discuss the various patients, sometimes patients would come into team to talk with us about their situations, goals, etc.
This whole process made me realize that although this has been an exhausting week for me personally, I know that everyone has rough patches and I just feel blessed that my rough patch is not constant or long lived as many people struggling with addiction, mental illness, poverty, and job loss.

Here's  a quick photo recap-

Ever tried bathing a cat?  Poor girl...she really was a trooper- it was not nearly as bad as I thought it might be (I wore elbow-length rubber gardening gloves just in case!)

The only semi-therapeutic thing I was able to do for myself this week amongst all the madness was bake and cook- a lot...

A fresh blueberry tart (recipe follows)- much simpler then a blueberry pie!  I make the crust  and stick the dough in the fridge while I prepare the filling:

toss together-
apx. 2 cups fresh blueberries
zest and juice of 1 lemon
palm full of sugar

I then roll out the crust lay it on a cookie sheet, pour the berry-mixture into the center leaving apx. 2" border around the edge- fold up the border to wrap around the berries, dot the berry top with butter, brush the crust with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake 400 degrees, apx 30 min., until crust is golden and filling is bubbly (and usually oozing all over the place- beware!)

Fresh salad from the farm veggies, with a potato-cheese-pak-choi scramble- YUM.

"Hard" coconut squares.  I say "hard" because growing up my Mom would make either these coconut squares- or these easier variety (basically blondies with coconut stirred in)- I much prefer these- they are insane and worth the extra effort!

Start by mixing together 1/2 cup shortening, 1/2 cup brown sugar,  1 cup flour- and pressing into an 8"x8" square pan.  Bake this crust at 350 degrees for 10 min....

while the crust is baking- beat 2 whole eggs on high speed for 10 min.- yes, that's right
10 min.- it may sound excessive- but I've cut corners before and it totally messed them up- so I suggest using the full time!  While the eggs are beating, and the crust is baking, combine the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl-

that would be the 1 cup brown sugar, 2 Tbs. flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 small pkg. coconut (I totally eyeballed this one since I had a 14 oz. bag- I used about 10 ozs. I'd say), and 1 cup of nuts (my Mom always used walnuts or pecans- because that's what she would have in the freezer- I used almonds for the same reason, plus I love me some Almond Joys- and it was divine!)

Take the crust out of the oven, add the eggs to the remaining ingredients by carefully folding to combine, spread atop the crust- bake at 350 for  another 20-25 min., until golden brown.  Let cool for 10 min. before cutting.

Both my little sis and big sis had Birthdays this week- so on Sunday I will be tackling chocolate cupcakes, with chocolate butter cream frosting for my Sissy's Birthday celebration!

  Happy birthday ladies!
I don't know what I would do without you in my life. You are my best friends, biggest confidant's, and 2 very special women...I love you!


Pie Crust (a classic family recipe of my great-grandmothers)

single (used for the tart or an open pie, i.e: pecan, chocolate cream, lemon meringue)
11/4 cup flour
1/2 cup shortening
21/2 Tbs. milk
1/4 tsp. salt

2 cups flour
3/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt

Use a pastry blender to combine all of the ingredients, roll on a floured surface. (refrigerate dough wrapped in plastic if particularly sticky)

Hard Coconut Squares

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
apx. 10 ozs. coconut
1 cup nuts

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Imagination and Blueberries

When ignored- by which I mean, I turn my back, stop the conversation and look really busy- this is what she eventually does...

All the while talking to herself...
"5 Birthday candles.... Max here's your are you sleeping?....goodnight!....little jack horners, sat in the corners, eating his Christmas pies'es....there-comfy seat for the babies....snug as a bug in a rug...." 

If you are familiar with Max and Ruby (Books by Rosemary Wells, TV show on nick Jr.- you may recognize many of those lines- this is Zella's favorite thing to pretend)

We recently went to the doctor for her 3 year check up- she asked if I had any developmental/behavior questions or concerns.  I decided to bring up the recent paranoia/phobic/anti-social behavior she has been occasionally exhibiting...  (working in a psych hospital does not serve me well sometimes- as I am constantly jumping to conclusions and diagnosing those around me with various disorders)  Anyway....she explained to me that at this age- their imagination is extremely active, and that leads to sometimes irrational fears, etc. That makes sense... this too shall pass.

I am a strong supporter of hands on parenting and playing with your kids, but some independent play time is important too! I can tell that it relaxes her, and boy did she need it after a fun filled morning of blueberrying!

We had a lot of fun for about 40 min., then things started to go a little sour...

Poor Mosie!!!! The super crowded wagon ride back did not make things any easier for the little guy!

Zella was a trooper though- and we made it home unscathed (after stopping at the near-by farmers market for apple cider donuts first)! 

While Z plays independently and Mosie sleeps- I contemplate all of the possibilities for sweet blueberry treats....if only we'd picked a few more pounds! More to come tomorrow with what I decide to make tonight...pancakes? tarts? mufflins????

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A simple science experiment

The other day, while driving home from work I noticed the streets lined with Queen Anne's lace- and thought about how much fun it would be to "dye" it with Zella- as I had done as a little girl....

This was a very messy process- despite the fact that Z was the only one squirting the dye- we all had it all over us.
 Not recommended for the mess-resistant folks out there:)

We made one vase of red and one of blue- the blue definitely had a more pronounced effect- the red became more of a pink tone.

These pics are from day 1- by day 3 they were really blue and pink!  Very exciting for a little 3-year-old, and me too!  The 1-year-old was oblivious:)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Go-to dinner

Em is on her way back from the farm pick-up tonight- which means I seriously need to get Cookin'!  It's tough sometimes keeping up with all of the farm produce! Nights like this- a quick meal is in order- and one that everyone will eat.

Here is one of my go-to favorites-
 Peanut Noodle Stir-fry
the best part is- the kids actually eat it!

First I make the sauce...

I mix together apx.
 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar,
 1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup peanut butter
fresh garlic
fresh ginger (I keep it in the freezer)
a big squirt of honey
red pepper flakes
blend it all in my blender until its nice and smooth!

Then- I cook the pasta....

While it's cooking I prep and stir-fry the veggies in a little olive oil, soy sauce, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, and S&P... I use this recipe to clean out the fridge of veggies- tonight its green onions, broccoli, beet greens, pak choi, and collorabi.

Here's my little helper-boy on my back...

Then- I toss everything together- and voila!  Delicious!  Happy cooking!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Boys vs. Girls

As my beautiful babies grow- the long debated "gender difference" becomes increasingly apparent to me. I like to think I was raised in a very open-minded, liberal household.  Although I am from a family of 3 girls- we were not encouraged to follow (and at times even, steered away from) "traditional female roles".  I am the first one to go on an anti-Disney-Princess rant.  I do not wear bows or puff sleeves as a fashion rule of of thumb- and I believe strongly that little boys should have dolls, and wear pink.

I have to say I didn't really notice that much of  a difference until Moses was a year or so.
At this point the differences are becoming increasingly more apparent.  From a purely psychological standpoint- I must say I really enjoy the observation. Just watching them interact with each other as they grow. It's fascinating. 

Here are a couple recent examples of the gender difference through my eyes....

This little boy loves sticks-the bigger the better.  I'm not quite sure if it's the fact that he sees Beau chewing on them- so he gets them out of our unsightly "stick pile" behind the garage- and gives them to Beau... and I'm sure some would frown upon my hands off parenting approach- letting him play with potentially dangerous wooden weapons that he could poke himself with, trip over, or hit Zella in the face with.
Instead of taking them away....I snap pictures!
 I look at it is exploration and something to occupy him while we are in the yard, as most of the time he is booking-it down the driveway;)

His other favorite thing- the car.  How stereotypical is that???? But seriously- he' s totally obsessed- he would explore the car for the afternoon if I had the patience to sit inside it with him.  He roams from button to button trying to figure out how everything works- a possible engineer in the making? 

Now for my sweet Zella-

Here are her babies that she has put to bed on the ottoman in the living room- from top to bottom: Pinkie Bear, Bear Bear, Baby Bear, Stripes, and last but not least Care Bear a.k.a Brave Heart Lion.

Note the meticulous way in which she lays each blankie (cloth baby wipes), on top of their little bodies.  Note the couch pillows lined up under their little heads.  She will do this for a good hour or so- very carefully.

Don't get me wrong- Zella is a climber, she plays with sticks, likes to wrestle, enjoys getting dirty, and is into bugs- and Moses has his own "babies" that he loves to snuggle, enjoys it when I apply lipgloss to his lips as he watches me do my makeup, and likes to wear headbands and fairy wings- but the way that they approach their play, and engage in independent play is very different.  Maybe it would still be very different if they were the same gender?  But now that I am guiding this little girl and boy through the world- it is becoming more apparent to me the differences that exist in their environment- and it is a blessing to be the one that gets to see it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A sneak peek!

In previous posts I've mentioned the ambitious mural undertaking in the front entryway of our home.  I've been working on this painting for about 5 months or so, though not continuously by any means.  I do a little bit at a time when I get a free second.  I have to admit- I kind of enjoy the long process- it makes me sad to think about completion (although that's a long way away).  This is the last mural I have planned for my own home- but maybe by the time it's finally done I'll have some commissioned murals to move onto;)

Here is a little peak at the part that I am working on right now.  I am painting a bunch of Allium-inspired flowers in the foreground of the picture.  Below I document the process I go through to complete each element of the mural- here's a quick glimpse as to why it takes so much time to complete it!

Below are a couple reference/inspiration shots from my friendly neighbor Kara's beautiful gardens.  (check out her fabulous Etsy shop- she's got a lot of great stuff on it!)

Picture #1- the beginning, a 2 layer coat of white, the base stem for each of the flowers (there are about 50 or so total- half of which will have blooms)

Picture #2- the bloom done in a layer of white

Picture #3- Gold added as a highlight to the flower- gives it a little more depth I think- I contemplated leaving it alone at this stage- then decided to add 1 more touch of color

Picture #4- The black ties it into the rest of the mural and makes it look a little more complete.

I promise I will do a full entry on the finished product when the day comes...I am on the home stretch....I think.