Saturday, November 02, 2013

Flower Fairies

Maria was a flower fairy for Halloween. A Hawaiian flower fairy. A frothy, whirly, twirly, Hawaiian, flower fairy.

This dress was one I modified for a Halloween a long time ago. 1997 long ago? Or was it 1999?
How did that happen?
Time, and space, and travel. Goodness.

Delia wanted to get some pictures for a photography assignment in her club, and while she posed Maria, I took pictures, too.

I removed the sleeves from the dress, and stitch a silky cord, flowers, leaves, and tulle all over the neckline. Then I made a flower cap... like a pixie. The cap was a lot more bedraggled than the dress, and Maria preferred her head lei. To go around the waist, I sewed more tulle to a wide ribbon, and wore it like a gossamer apron. For Maria I raised the hem of the dress and snipped the tulle apron so she wouldn't get tangled up in it. Then I stitched the sleeves... over lapping by two inches to cinch up the fit. She had her own fairy dress in a jiffy!

I love how delighted she was with being a flower fairy, and flitting about, all day.

I love that she made it her own.

Maria and her Grandmother. I still remember the wonderful costumes my Mommy made for me, and the bliss of flitting about, all day.

Yesterday a friend called. She was a neighbor that Halloween, a long time ago, when I wore my fairy dress, and she remembered it. She remembered it, and was calling to ask a favor. Could she please borrow the fairy dress for a last minute party she was invited to? She hoped I still had it. She hoped I wouldn't mind.

Mind? Not a bit. I took the hem back down, and I freshened the dress up. Then I took a look at the pixie floral cap, and decided I could revive it...

Mostly the little hat was missing petals, so I brought out the glue gun and grabbed some fabric flowers leftover from a wreath project, and I filled in the gaps. Maria likes it much better now, and I think Candace will, too.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Sewing~Painting~Carving~Borrowing~Creating Halloween

Hundreds of pumpkins, grown locally by the SRF and carved by the monks, were on display all over our main street. There were some astonishingly beautiful ones, and silly ones, and simple ones. I only took two pictures, but I like them. A lot.

Our plans for Halloween were not easy to pin down, and it wasn't until after sunset that we were decided. There was homework to complete, classes to come home from, and costumes to finish. Sometimes these last-minute-no-plan plans can really leave me primed for anxious stressyness, but I did not go that way... I made breakfast burritos, I snipped and stitched, to help with costumes. We found gloves. We secured the kitties. And we left the Bird House, en masse, eager to find treats and fun. And. It was a big success. We joined the happy crowds downtown.

William is dignified, Maria is fairyfied, Max is a plague doctor, Alex is Jack of the Lantern, and Bambi is missing a potato... but her manga cosplay looks cool anyway.

Alex worked on his shepherd's crook~stilt all week, and even got some help from his grandmother Delia, who held it steady so he could carve the staff with vines and leaves.

Downtown merchants shared treats, and up and down the streets were revelers of every age, awesome costumes, and funny pets. The restaurants were overflowing, and a band was playing. It was a bright, cheery, fun crowd.

Back home, we turned off all the lights and had a flashlight candy hunt! That was a worthwhile bit of inspiration, and funny, too. Earlier in the week Alex admitted he really wanted some trick-or-treats, that he could very well buy himself some chocolate, but that it felt unsporting, empty. I jokingly suggested that I could hide candy from them... but even as I said it, we realized we were on to something interesting.

You see, some boys, girls too, get tall very soon, even when they are still quite young, and it's so disappointing how many people make nosy, or mean, or pointless comments, or how some towns even ban trick-or-treating for anyone considered "too old, or too big." I've never agreed with this idea of cutting-out young people from the fun. There are these lousy trends in our culture of kicking young people out and giving them no place in the activities and traditions that they would like to enjoy, like trick-or-treating. Our youth get rushed into a false limbo-adulthood too soon, and creativity is squashed... it's tragic, really. Janece shared a commentary on this same subject.

Well, Halloween, and any celebration or tradition is what you make it, and we wanted to make it fun! I stashed and hid chocolates all over the kitchen... clever, sneaky me! Laughing, sharing hints and clues, squealing at their finds, everyone found treats, enjoyed tricks, and made Halloween fun. This will definitely happen again! We'll be inviting all of our tall, shy, treat deprived friends over for some flashlight candy hunting next Halloween!

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Squeeeee! I cannot help myself... they look so darling, all of them together, Pumpkin Friends forever!
Kellie, Michal, and Adam hosted a pumpkin carving party. Plenty of tables, plenty of tools. BYOP!

Michael was brand new to this tradition, so Max gave him his best tips.

I was sure to collect seeds. Roasted pumpkin seeds are one of my favorite reasons for carving pumpkins at all! Besides serving pie and cider, Michal and Kellie roasted seeds for all of us, and everyone came with things like baked squash, fresh bread, cupcakes, and deviled eggs with olive spiders! Potluck is such a brilliant idea when friends are gathering. Everyone brings out their best.

Maria and Paul, devising their plans.

Michael, Max, and Alex... love the purposeful focus.

It was great having the space, the good tools, the smiles, the creative inspiration... even the weather was cooperating, with a chill in the air and fog rolling in.

Guests kept filing in throughout the evening. Great Jack O' Lanterns were being turned out, one after another. It's not easy getting my camera to take nice shots in the dark, so I regret I did not take more pictures. Olive Oyl and Popeye made an appearance, and the children were dashing every which way in the dark. Spirited play. Good memories.

Besides, my hands were full, first with carving out an owl, then eating roasted squash and pumpkin seeds... nomnomnom!

We brought all of the Jack O' Lanterns to the stairs, so we could capture the majesty and glow in one image.

Every one, a masterpiece!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Five Good Things

I don't think there is a time of year when there isn't lavender I can harvest from our generous plant growing in Lola's Garden. It was over five years ago, when we were still in a rental palace, and I was mourning the loss of dear little chick... how dear and bittersweet to recall that we comforted Maria by telling her that Lola would live again as flowers. Lola blooms, and blooms, and blooms!

Between chores, baking, and resting with an icepack on my neck, I enjoyed cutting more lavender, sorting them by length and tying them for drying.

Where did I read... lavender is a natural moth deterrent, and it's nice to have in a nest box, too? What a happy, useful suggestion.

Good Things:

1. One lavender plant can yield a lot of flowers.

2. Bulging disc recovery is going well... I look forward to my ice-pack therapy time.

3. I am enjoying my recharged cleaning urges... less fretting about what's undone, and more satisfaction about purging and doing what I can.

4. Geoff made two repairs to interior handles in my Odyssey, and now my ride is like new, again.

5. Delia is coming.

Please, tell me what's good with you?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Making Pot Roast

Dear Tia Blanca,

When you asked about what we were making, then said you were inspired... well, you inspired me, too. So, I decided to share with you how we prepare our pot roast. It's not difficult, and with just two key steps I've learned, I think it comes out wonderfully. I hope you get a day off, a cool fall day, when you can prepare this and enjoy it with good company... make that three key steps: Any food will taste better if taken with good company!


chuck roast (I can get two at Costco, which is nice for a crowd)
onions... one per roast
carrots... at least four per roast (Geoff says, "You can't have too many carrots.")
herbes de Provence... this can be dried thyme, savory, fennel, basil, lavender,
or sometimes I use an Italian herb mix
black pepper
garlic cloves... at least six per roast
olive oil
red wine... nice friends bring wine when we have parties, so I use any that tastes good!

Start heating your oven... and this is key one: Low heat... try 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
I chop the onions and slice the carrots, then sauté them in olive oil.
I love the carrots to get browned, the onions, too.
Do you know about not crowding the pan? It really helps the veggies to get crisp, not watery,
so I try to remember to patiently cook the onions, then carrots, in multiple batches.
While the veggies sauté, I use a paper towel to absorb any moisture from the chuck roast...
another good tip for browning.

Now I add equal parts salt, pepper and herbs in a dish... enough to coat the roast,
and then rub the two cuts of meat all over with the seasonings.
The cooked veggies are set aside in baking pans (I've also let the roast and veggies cook in crock pot, which worked just fine, while adding more time... think 6-7 hours.)
Now it's time to brown the roast, and maybe you need to heat more olive oil for this.
I brown both sides, and even the edges, since it's such a thick cut, and we want the juices to get sealed in.
Now the roast is ready to sit with the veggies in the baking dish,
and I cover them with whole, slightly crushed cloves of garlic.

The pan is a mess, right? Don't let that tasty stuff go to waste!
Add about two cups of your red wine to the pan... and be sure you like the flavor.
The alcohol cooks off, but the taste will remain, so you want it to be something you like.
Now you can "clean" the pan, scraping whatever remained, while simmering and reducing the wine.
Let the wine bubble and thicken a bit, and then pour it over the roast... dividing between the both, if you are preparing two roasts.
Seal your baking dish with aluminum foil. And into the oven... for at least five hours... could even be six, if your meat cuts are really big.
Low heat was key one, and a long time roasting, in a well sealed pan, is key two.
This will make the meat fall-apart tender, and juicy. I promise.

Imagine a pot of frijoles simmering on the stove, too. Some roasted potatoes, salad, and, of course, you have some vino leftover! Oh my gosh, I am getting hungry, again! I love this roast with flour tortillas, but there's a wonderful bread recipe you might like to try, too! We are in love with Dutch Oven Bread. Don't worry about the Dutch Oven part, because it bakes just fine on a cookie sheet, too. And hey, if any of this is confusing, you should call me over and insist I help you!

Buen provecho, Tia. Te quiero mucho.