Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's a Winter Wonderland

The birdfeeders have been a happening place today. So far, I've identified yellow finches, cardinals, chickadees, crows, tufted titmouses, rufous sided towhees, juncos, bluejays, Carolina wrens, mourning doves, and woodpeckers--red-bellied & ladder-backed. It snowed, and even better, Joseph helped me figure out the zoom on my camera, so I can share the birds and our wanderings with you. We're back in the house enjoying warm cinnamon sugar cookies and hot cocoa. Wishing you a cozy winter day!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Welcome Snow

I'm waiting for the forecasted snow with bated breath. The latest says it may be more sleet & ice in our neck of the woods, but I'm holding out for snow! I've got the snow banner up, a new batch of suet for the birds, and even hung out a couple loads of laundry, figuring it may bring it on, like washing the car does rain. Those of you in Montana and northern places, who are tired of the snow, send a little good snow juju here, would you?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Soap & The Power of Love

Today I've made a batch of Skin Soother soap. It's one I created at Joseph's request, to help with dry itchy skin. It's got all sorts of goodies in it- calendula extract & petals, ground oats, tea tree oil, and it's superfatted with cocoa butter to make it especially rich. I'd been putting calendula petals in the soap, but they don't show very well, so I decided to also sprinkle some on top today. I think I'm going to like it.
Ever since I read June's post yesterday, which included a Youtube link about a wonderful rescue story in Haiti, I've been thinking about television. Since moving here in '96, I've chosen to live without television. I can't say I really have missed it. There's always plenty to occupy my time without it. If something major happens, I know I can watch it streaming, from the computer, which Joseph and I did for the Presidential inauguration. It seems so much of what was on TV was less than uplifting. Maybe that's changed, but I don't expect so. But it's good to see a story of hope, of love, of faith against all odds. The fierce kind of love I expect a mother has for her children. And if they're lucky, the kind of love a spouse has for their beloved. Doing what they do, against all hope, because that's what love does. That story gave me hope. If this is what is being shown on cnn, it may be another sign we're moving in the right direction.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Bird in the Hand

This morning, while sewing some eye pillows, I heard a bird hit the window. When I went outside to check, the chickens were standing by, commiserating over the birds lack of good fortune. It was a very stunned yellow finch, and I picked her(him?) up and held her close to warm her. It's cold here this morning, so I brought her in the house. When it seemed she perked up, I took her outside to see if she'd fly off. This was repeated a number of times, but she was perfectly content to hang out with me. I was beginning to wonder if she would not be able to fly, but happily, she flew off after about an hour. A happy ending. Isn't she lovely? I need to research about bird feeders, as this seems to be happening a lot lately. Joseph put up the new feeder about 14 ft. from the house, which seemed far enough away, but maybe not? I know they make hawk stickers to put on windows, but will that keep them from the feeders? Is the best bet to move them? Have any of you dealt with this?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Silk Lovelies

It's a rainy, gray day here. A good day to be indoors creating.
I'm inspired today to create more eye pillows. These silk scarves, all thrifted, are going to become my next eye pillows. They all seem to have a Valentine or spring theme. I love the little hearts on the scarf on the left. At last count, the Craft Hope site has sold over 1000 items, and raised over $20,000 for Haiti. I feel humbled to be a part of such an awesome group of crafters.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Good One

Whatever you are, be a good one.--from Life is Good: Simple Words from Jake and Rocket. On another note, all of my eye pillows sold on the CraftHope for Haiti site. Woohoo! This is a picture I took of one of them in November.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wise Words of the Day

Understand and know at last that We Are All One... This is the essential truth of the life experience. Is the tulip superior to the rose? Are the mountains more majestic than the sea? Which snowflake is the most magnificent? Is it possible that they are all magnificent - and that, celebrating their magnificence together, they create an awesome display?---Neale Donald Walsch in Communion with God

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Simple Sunday

We're having an easy Sunday. Rain, applesauce cake, massage, seeds. Wishing you an equally relaxing day!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Way To Help

This morning, I learned of another way to provide assistance to those helping in Haiti, thanks to Heather. Those of us who make handmade items can donate them to Craft Hope for Haiti, and the proceeds all go to Doctors Without Borders. How wonderful is that! I've donated some of my eye pillows. Please check out the site if you'd like a lovely handmade item, and do some good to boot. As a quote on the site says, "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."--Anne Frank.
Craft Hope Spreading seeds of hope one stitch at a time


Friday, January 15, 2010

To Haiti with Love

My heart has been heavy, for the suffering in Haiti. In the mid 80's, I was lucky to have known Kathleen, a dear woman from Haiti. She was a coworker and friend. She and her husband, Gi, planned on saving what they could, then moving back to Haiti to teach and help others. We exchanged letters for a number of years. Her last letter told of her plans to move back. As she did not yet know her address, she gave me her sister's florist in Port Au Prince. When I next wrote, the florist was no longer, and no forwarding address was given. I've thought of Kathleen a lot this year. I searched online, but expect the lifestyle of so many there made it unlikely they'd spend much if any time online. If you'd like to help, but not sure where, one of the many groups of folks doing good around the world is Mercy Corps. Another way each of us can help is to send our love and light to all those who are suffering. It all makes a difference.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Callie Kitty

In case my last post felt a little prickly, I thought I'd leave you with a warm and fuzzy post today. I'm off to make a batch of soap, then head to the library for a book I requested. Oh boy!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's Not Pretty

I'd better warn you, this may be a bit of a rant today, so you may just want to skip to the recipe. This morning, I read an article about the healthcare bill. Then, Joseph mentioned being behind a Mom with her small child yesterday, whose shopping cart was packed full of Twinkies, Little Debbie snack cakes, and other assorted junk foods. Which she then paid for with food stamps. I've always thought it made more sense to promote prevention and wellness, than focus on care of dis-ease. The light bulb came on. Wouldn't it make sense to allow food stamps to buy only real food, food that our ancestors would have recognized? No high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and the like. As Michael Pollan espouses. The health of everyone in the family would improve, the little ones would learn about and get a taste for real food, the farmers would seemingly benefit (rather than the agro-conglomerates), and we would all benefit from lower healthcare costs and a larger number of productive members of society, due to improved health and energy. Now, I know there are probably some holes in this theory, but it sure seems like a win-win situation at first glance. Something that may move us a step closer to where we're trying to get as a society.

OK, on to the recipe. I found this recipe in a recent Backwoods Home magazine. I may not agree with everything in the magazine, but there are some real treasures, including Jackie Clay.

Grandma's Pumpkin Soup

2 tbs vegetable oil
1 minced onion
1 minced sweet pepper
3 cloves crushed garlic
2 c cooked, pureed pumpkin
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 c chicken stock (I use vegi stock)
1 c cream (more or less to suit you)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat oil and saute onions, pepper, and garlic until soft. Add pumpkin and spices and saute until aroma is released from curry and cumin. Add stock and cream. Heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning. Makes 4 small servings.

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as we have. And forgive me if I have offended thee.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Present & Future Good Eats

The seed perusing has started. I've begun going through the seeds on hand, then will move on to the catalogs, to see just what wonderful offerings we need this year. Yesterday, I went through my herb & flower seeds. I was hoping to find some poppies, but didn't. I'd really like to get some started here, but have not had any luck so far. I love their cheerful beauty, and would appreciate any tips in getting them started. J and I have been talking chickens. As our youngest "girls" will soon be 2 years old, we'll get a few more this spring, to keep us in eggs over the coming year. I'll have to pick up the list at our local feed & seed to see what they'll be getting in. It's such fun to go there, and see the sweet fuzzy chicks. I made a Giada recipe we enjoyed.

Israeli Couscous with Apples, Cranberries and Herbs


2 tbs olive oil

2 c couscous (or barley or orzo)

4 c low-sodium chicken broth (I used vegi broth)

1/4 c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 1/2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 medium green apple diced

1 c dried cranberries

1/2 c slivered almonds, toasted (see note)


1/4 c apple cider vinegar

2 tbs maple syrup

1 tbs kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 olive oil

For the couscous: In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the couscous and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly browned and aromatic, about 3-5 mins. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-12 mins or until liquid has evaporated. Transfer the cooked couscous to a large bowl and set aside to cool. Add parsley, rosemary, thyme, apple, dried cranberries, and almonds.

For the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Pour the vinaigrette over the couscous and toss to coat evenly.

Note: To toast the almonds, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 mins or until golden brown (keep a close eye on these). Cool completely before using.

I wasn't sure about the combination of ingredients, but was quite pleased with the results. It's always heartening to sit down to a meal that includes so many ingredients that were from this land. This time that was the sweet potatoes, green beans, garlic, apple, herbs, & apple cider vinegar. Forgive my bragging, but it sure makes me feel good. Of course, I did follow it up with some Green & Black mint dark chocolate. One of many things I'd miss if I had to grow it all here!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thrifted Treasures

Yesterday, after my massage work at Hospice, I stopped by a local thrift store and found this book. It's Woodstock Handmade Houses, and is similar to 2 other books I have, which inspired me throughout the building of my house. Certainly, some of the dwellings are pretty funky, but some are beautiful, soulful homes, like the one pictured here. I just searched a link for this book, & am astonished to find they've got my 1974 paperback version listed for $45 and up. Guess my $1.50 buy was a pretty good deal. I've been inspired by The Thrifty Chicks to keep an eye out for perfect, thoughtful thrifted gifts throughout the year, & did find one for a loved one that I'll put away. I did well last year, making a number of presents, as well as giving a couple thrifted gifts, but would like to do even better this year. I'd say its a good beginning.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Mediterranian Birdhouse

It's cold here today! The forecast is for 14 degrees tonight, a temperature not often seen in these parts. It didn't make it above freezing today, so twice I went out to pour hot water in the birdbaths. The birds seem appreciative of the sunflower seeds & suet. Our chickens & cats don't seem to mind. We've got 2 heat lamps going in the chicken coop at night. Though the cats come & go as they please, they're content to snuggle up together in their bed in the shed. The picture is of the birdhouse Joseph gifted me at Christmas. I love it!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome 2010!

Wishing you time to reflect & time to ponder what you want to create. The quote is from Arundhati Roy. Happy New Year!