Friday, March 28, 2014

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary silly 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.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Day It Drizzled

The day it drizzled, William walked into my office and asked if I would make the soup, again. The potatoes, leeks, and cabbage soup. It's cool weather soup. I'm disappointed in myself for not writing down the recipe from the first time I made it... that time, I was measuring everything, because William likes to know exactly what and how much. It's not how I normally cook, but the discipline has its benefits... like being able to duplicate a good recipe. I kept saying to myself, write this one down, but I didn't. It made me nervous, this second time, about being able to recall the steps, the ratios, and making the same soup. Fortunately, it's a simple soup... and it goes something like this:

Leek~Potato~Cabbage Soup

1 clean, diced leak
2 cups red potatoes, bite size
2 cups of diced cabbage
1 carrot, diced
4 ounces of butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup half & half
6 cups water
1 tablespoon parsly
white pepper & salt, to taste

William doesn't like long strands of leek, so I quarter the length of leek, and then slice those narrowly, and set them aside. Then I sliced the potatoes into bite size pieces, and diced the carrots. Using a heavy-bottomed stock pot, I melt the butter, and before it browns I toss in the leeks, cooking them until some are golden on the edges, and then with a whisk in hand, I sprinkle in the flour and mix the flour into the buttery leeks. Next, I add the potatoes and carrots, some salt, some pepper, and stir those around, over low-medium heat. Now, I add about six cups of water, and let all of this get lightly bubbly, then reduce the heat, so it's just simmering. I test it for salt, dash in some parsley, add the half & half, or cream... cream is tasty! I hold back the cabbage until the potatoes are nearly softened, because I want the cabbage to stay a bit firm... no soggy-mushy cabbage, for me. And re-test for salt and flavor... maybe a bit more pepper? Everything is simmering away, and ready to eat when the cabbage and potatoes are cooked to your liking.

The day it drizzled, I made this soup, and then went out into the garden to pick spinach for quiche. I decided to add beet greens, too. Those are my latest garden crush! I like beet greens in my smoothie, and beet greens salad, and I figured they're a lot like spinach, and would work fine in a quiche. I was also looking forward to seeing bright pink splashes of color in the dish. Pretty.

In the garden, I saw our squash are growing... we call that part of the garden our Lasagna Garden! We have high hopes. The branches we trimmed from the apricot tree are full of blossoms! Very concerning: The apricot tree is not full of blossoms! Oh-gob, did we prune the wrong branches?? Won't that be crushing? We have high hopes for apricots, too. The tree is leafy, but not a single bloom. The spinach is leafy, too, and manages to thrive in spite of my hens, who visit the garden beds and upset everything... which brings to mind the fence I want to put in, so the chickens can "free-range" in a controlled zone.

Quiche is good for using up eggs, but nothing is using up our eggs as fast as the are hens laying! We give away eggs, all the time! They're are such good, generous hens. Perhaps it's time for me to think of earning a little egg money. I love sharing, but as I cannot get blogging to pay, I really should be a sensible farmer, and see about making cash for scratch. Any takers? Local folks, who would like fresh eggs from hens who eat organic food, free-range, and are sublimely happy? $3 for half a dozen. They're pretty and delicious!

The day it drizzled, I washed dishes, and gazed out the kitchen window, thinking about my mom, my brothers, my grandmother, and I felt pangs of homesickness, longing for the days when we were often together. I thought about summer plans that need to be made, and plans for spring break. I thought about Pride and Prejudice, which I am reading, again. A book like that can lead to all sorts of lovely thoughts... travel, pinafores, baking, love, relationships, passion, reserve, silly things, and silly notions, and long walks in long skirts. Lovely... the book, the thoughts... the drizzly day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Color Comfort Confusion

This time, I am sure. That is what I kept telling myself. I was sure of the colors, sure of the plan. This would be a romantic, patchwork quilt, with no scheme... just randomly pieced, for casual comfort. La-di-da... I sang, with the birds, and the chipmunks kept me company, while goats and chickens gamboled across the manicured lawn. I was organized, calculating, full of conviction and confidence, and dashes of whimsy!

Today, I am here to confess a few things. I have what I am going to call Random Resistors. Some innate, stubborn, artistically rigid thread in my being will not let me just go for it! I could have tossed the squares in a sack, then sewed them together, pulling up one square at a time, and paying no heed to the order or rhyme. But, no.

Max walked by and said something about tones and color intensity, and then I was obsessed with finding a pleasing aesthetic, something interesting, yet romantic, casual, whimsical, simple.

Next, Maria and I were on our hands and knees, making a deliberate attempt at randomness. Then we tried different nine patch patterns. After that came reds in the corner, and alternating shades between.

Hours later, I found myself not at all convinced and confident of anything. So, I called in an expert.

It's been a long time since he does this, but Max has not lost his touch for design, and remarkable ability to see what's possible with what is on hand. I love how beautifully he composed all the prints for his frog quilt, and so I watched, rapt, while Max sorted through all the possibilities.

One challenge... I have different amounts of twenty different prints, and nothing was cut or planned with an actual pattern in mind.

There can be no doubt Max was heading into a really beautiful pattern, but though we had a lot of squares, we did not have a lot of the necessary squares. Another problem had to do with space... the squares were strewn across the floor, and taking shape, but overlapped, and not in a convenient grid, or rows, so it would be impossible to maintain the design, on the floor, until I could piece all the squares... the obstacles were mounting, and that's not even taking into account Mister Foo's curiosity and playful antics.

Seeing this, how beautiful the quilt could be, with thought and planning, I resigned myself to doing something better than random.

For now? I am back to a stack of comforting colors, and no idea where to go next!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bird House & Barn

... a Goat Farm Report

Tasha and Ada were invited to the Spring Garden Party. Great friends, you say? Awesome neighborhood? I know, right? We love our community, and the gatherings that bring absolutely everyone out for a good time. Goats, too!

People ask, Why goats? And, When did you decided to get goats? And, Are you milking them?

Milking goats: No. We haven't had them bred. No babies, no milk. It's a step we are tempted to make, especially Geoff! But we know it would be a big, big commitment. They're small goats, Nigerian Dwarf goats, but they are well known for their milk production, and if they give birth, not only would we be looking out for babies, we would be duty bound to milking the goats twice a day. You cannot get away, travel, make other plans with that responsibility. So, we have to be sure, before we go for it!

This face! Oh, I love my goaters. They are such darlings. They're a bit headstrong, and Ada, here, can speak volumes, but their hearts are sweet, and they make us laugh. It was so easy to fall in love with them, when they were wee babes. They were literally irresistible! And, even now that they are all grown up, I still find them endearing.

Goodness, I was so wrapped up in how much the goats have grown, but as I visit the archives, my heart is touched to see how much Maria has grown, too! *Sigh*

Our goats, are accustomed to walking on leashes, wearing harnesses. Our last travel outing was in the fall, when they were taken to church to be blessed. We kept them in a small fenced area, which was only semi-effective... whenever they got excited about seeing someone, they would lean on the fence and bring the whole thing down! So, for our visit to the garden party, Geoff brought rope and we kept them on extended leashes. That novelty was not a big hit with the goats, who wound themselves up, tangled, and fussed... until we brought out their food!

Their orchard grass and oats, made them calmer.

But those harnesses and ropes were still a bit of a tangle, so Geoff and I took turns keeping them straightened out.

Those are dog harnesses, and goats are not exactly dog shaped, so things can get a bit wonky. And goats expand and deflate through the day, so the fit varies. The big bellies? It's not fat, or pregnancy, it's because they're ruminants, and the grass and hay they've foraged is being processed in multiple stomach chambers... things get gassy in there, and they fill up, and belch, and chew their cud. It's a goat thing.

Do they eat everything? No! And it's not nice to give them just anything. They do try everything, tasting and sampling whatever they can, like a toddler will. They use their lips like fingers, feeling and exploring and discovering what they've found. It's important to keep un-food away from their reach, because they like to chew strings, try plastics, nibble on interesting bits, but those things can get stuck and cause them a heap of trouble.

Sometimes, it seems like their appetites are endless. They love food. They love the dry leaves in fall, and pine needles, and bark off a tree. But they are smart, too, luckily, and when they're full, they step away, settle down and start chewing their cud. Fortunately, we only had to help with bloat, one time. It was when Ada had such a severe case of indigestion, she wouldn't even move, and more shocking! she stopped talking. She got the Pepto cure, and was recovered after a day. We were all relieved!

Their eyes are {weird, strange, pretty, so different!} We agree. Goat eyes are weird, strange, pretty and different. It's those horizontal pupils. Those pupils help them by giving them a wide peripheral field of view... very helpful when foraging on the African plains, and keeping a lookout for predators. They can look really goofy, I know. But even goofier than those googly eyes, is when I see a picture of them with drowsy-half shut googly eyes!

Just the moment none of us wants to be tagged for on social media! Sorry, Tasha. You adorably goofy goat.

A favorite goat moment I enjoy is introducing new friends to Ada and Tasha. Sometimes we'll see someone who is very timid, uncertain about those googly-eyed ungulates. It can take a bit of prodding, gentle encouragement, but once they feed our goats, and feel those soft lips vacuuming up their oats, there is a wonderful moment of elation, connection. Trust and joy! The goats don't bite. They can get a bit clumsy and being so big, they have accidentally toppled Maria, but they have never done anything aggressive or deliberately rough... and we're really happy about this.

Good thing the children had small hands, or the goats would have filled up even sooner than they did! By the time Adam and his buddies came around, Tasha and Ada were about full, and definitely a lot less pushy about having a favorite snack.

And, even though the children were happy to make unlimited offerings, I am happy to report our goats knew better than to take in more than they could digest.

But Tasha and Ada were no less interested in all the sweet attention and company they were getting. They soaked up all the party love, making new friends, and enjoying a beautiful day.

Why goats? Because I am lucky. Because they captured my imagination, and made me wish wistful and heartfelt wishes, and sometimes it's worthwhile to take leap, and make a dream come true!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Five Good Things

This year's Spring Garden Party was definitely the most colorful! The traditional open house, come one and all, garden party, hosted by Michal and Kellie, with Michael and Patricia, was as fun-filled, relaxed, and generous as ever. Everyone is welcome... no kidding! They put a sign out in front of the house. It's a potluck that always brings together a great bunch. This year we celebrated Nikita's ninth birthday, Holi, and water balloons, Spring, Equinox, goats, gardens, good food, new and old friends.

Good Things...

1. Time in the company of friends, and making new friends.

2. My camera... I love my camera.

3. Half a day with Geoff, out of the office.

4. The cabbage-pecan-crunchy-yummy salad that Chaz brought to the potluck!!

5. Smiles, and laughter, and the way it feels to be surrounded by joy.

Have you enjoyed some goodness, too? I hope you'll share with us, please.