Friday, November 07, 2014

{this moment}

A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to 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.

Moments before the party began...

Thursday, November 06, 2014

For The Love of Making

I am a dabbler. Quilting, wool felting, sewing, embroidery, crochet, beading, clay, painting, paper crafts, miniatures, orange peels(??) For as long as I can remember I have wanted to try a lot of different artsy-craftsy-makesy things. There have been successes, flops, total flops, and sometimes just quiet inner peace and contentment, which might be best of all. Some crafts I return to again, and again, like sewing and embroidery, crochet. Some I give a go, then let it go... knitting, weaving. I would love to get back to a potter's wheel! I think sweating copper is fun. I am eager to learn more about circuitry, wiring, and fiddling with LEDs. Did you ever make tissue ghosts, paper snowflakes, walnut shell turtles? As a young girl, I was never happier than when I had some glue, tape, glitter, and paper on hand! I feel quite fortunate to be as much in love with making as ever, and even better supplied! Geoff has been a wonderful influence, insisting that the right tools, and good materials, matter. That it's worth the time to do a good job. Instead of feeling like I was just fooling around, or that I should get by with what's on hand, he's allowed me to respect the process, appreciate the value of ideas, time, effort, and interest. That's a priceless gift.

I used to keep what I affectionally call my Scrapbook of Domestic Fantasies. I still have it... magazine clippings, ideas, hopes, pretty things to admire, all clipped and pasted into a notebook. These days, it's all about Pinterest. On my Crafty Board alone, I have over 200 inspiring ideas. Some I have tried, some I hope to try. And then there are the WIPs! Works In Progress. Oh dear. Unfinished quilts, samplers, projects, a weird thing that was my lazy attempt to crochet a shawl... now mostly a thing Mr Foo sleeps on. Either I lack the patience, or the skill, or I've lost interest, but there are loads of WIPs in my stash. I almost added "lack of time" to the list of my reasons for having so many unfinished projects, but I think that would be disingenuous. When I get interested in a craft, or project, I make the time. I steal, borrow, and obsess over having time to make. It's not pretty, but it's true. And still, I keep adding to my digital Scrapbook of Domestic Fantasies, still hoping to dabble in something new, return to the projects that bring me that quiet inner peace and contentment.

Am I alone? I don't think so. Certainly not in our house, where making, tinkering, and building are such strong passions we have a separate blog dedicated to sharing our projects and interests. Our Young Makers Club, Love & Rockets ~ Art & Engineering has had this wonderful influence on my attitude... making me feel less apologetic, less sheepish, about robots in the driveway, wanting to make "weird things," throwing our hearts and energy into mentoring, exploring, and celebrating STEAM... even the crafty bits! Manual labor, art, tech work, auto shop, wood shop, home economics, cooking, DIY... all of those took such a hard hit in schools, were cut out altogether in most instances, and in many ways our national culture can be very dismissive and unappreciative of making, of creating, tinkering, playing for the sake of playing, so that I was aware that I suppressed my interests, and tried to adhere to the mainstream ideals, and downplay my "hobbies"... but no more! I love making, and I love teaching what I can, I love experimenting, and I don't always have a reason, or plan. Sometimes, as Adam Savage so passionately explains, 'You have to make what you can't not make.'

Making, I have learned, is even more fun with friends. And so in a couple of weeks I am hosting a gathering around our kitchen table, and maybe out the back yard and into the carport... I've invited friends to bring their ideas, their scrapbooks, their WIP's, their questions, their concerns, their skills, their supplies, and share. We'll have time to make progress on projects we want to finish. And I am hoping, too, we can exchange skills, offer support and encouragement and learn from each other. I really hope someone can teach me how to crochet a granny square! I even invited friends I know cannot actually come to Southern California... sure wish they could! But maybe they'll host an event, too? Maybe we will start a home movement, and all of us quiet dabblers, wild knitters, hesitant painters, ultra talented welders, and artful photographers will get together and share, encourage, tinker, dabble, spill glitter, and play together.

Hold on... more deep thoughts and other musings keep coming! I like, too, the idea of going beyond the daydreaming on Pinterest, and actually doing things. I can get inspired, and also discouraged, by all the crafts, art, projects and accomplishments in the glossy magazines, the blogs. It can be so intimidating! There are skills I don't possess, there are those flops I've experienced, and if I let it all fill my head, and if I think about not being as good as... it's a loss, a waste. So, yeah... let's not concern ourselves with perfect outcomes, with making the cover of MSL. This is about learning, sharing, growing, playing, and exploring, starting over, and if need be... giving up! There are some crafts I may never conquer, and frankly, some I will never bother with... if I see one more "amazing-this-can't-be-a-toilet-paper-roll craft" again, I might blurt: But it is. It is a toilet paper roll, and I don't want it on my Thanksgiving table, because it's not 'Uh-mazing!' It's a toilet paper roll. With googly eyes. Stop."

{Sorry, but hey, we all have our crafty limits, right?}

Have you seen Pinterest Fail? "Where good intentions come to die." It's hilarious, and reassuring.

"Not all who wander are lost."
J.R.R. Tolkein

"Not all who Pin & craft are going to make the cover of "Martha Stewart Living," but that shouldn't stop us from making our journey!"
N. Chickenblogger

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Newest Cook and Her Super Frittata

Maria was the chef, and I was the sou chef, and dinner was super! And it's all thanks to her cooking class after school... what a boon! Thanks to Make and Take Dinner, Maria spent the afternoon in the school kitchen learning all the steps for making this frittata with broccolini and potatoes. All the cooks were invited to sit down to a hot and tasty sampling of their work before they took home insulated bags with the recipe, all the ingredients, plus the pan, to make dinner at home.

Seriously? Yup.

Even the eggs? The delicious Parmesan cheese, too? Yup. Even the cooking oil, and broth. All of it neatly packed and ready to go.

We got home, and Maria went straight to work. Apron on. Hands washed, and chopping potatoes. I loved listening to her recall little details from class, "Ms Snacky said 'slice it eight ways,' like this." As much as possible I hung back, and stayed clear, until I was called in to assist. But she was definitely running the show. Here is the recipe she followed:

Fall Broccollini & Potato Frittata

8 small red potatoes
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil
7 pieces broccolini, trimmed and halved lengthwise, and chopped into 2 inch pieces (Maria opted to chop them further... chef's prerogative!)
1 small onion diced (I was impressed to see her take on this part, too!)
8 eggs
1 cup (100g) grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Spray 8x8 pan with cooking spray
Wash potatoes and broccolini

Put the potatoes in a 10" skillet, and add stock. Bring the stock to boil, and cook for ten minutes, turning potatoes often.

Add the olive oil, broccolini, and onion to the pan and cook for one minute, turning the vegetables to coat in the oil. Cover and cook to soften the broccoli, 2-3 minutes. Check to make sure the vegetables are as soft as you would like them. If they are not, add 1/2 cup of water and cook until they are the desired firmness.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl lightly beat the eggs with half cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Add vegetable mixture to the bowl, and stir to combine all the ingredients. Pour entire mixture into the greased pan, and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, until the eggs are puffed and set.

We served our frittata with smoothies: A banana, mixed frozen berries, extra frozen blue berries, two cups of green cabbage, and apple juice... like a chilled salad in a glass!

Well, all four children cook, now. This means I must be pretty close to retirement, to a life of ease and luxury, and super dinners!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Chicken Tuesday

Noisy. Messy. Heedless. Disobedient. Bullying. Hilarious... when they run, when they dust bathe, when they announce an egg. Endearing... when they feather a nest, submit to a cuddle, follow me around the garden, help with the tilling and weeding. Calming... when I sit in a corner and watch them, pet them. I love my chickens, and their eggs.

Monday, November 03, 2014

My Veggie Quinoa Walnut Patty Tastes Better Than Ever

Dear Robin,

You are amazing. When Celine and James arrived, I looked around for you. I really thought you and Sean, Collin, would be there. Next time, okay? Then Celine handed me the bag, and the avocados were generous, and exciting, but what came next... well, you do know my weaknesses, don't you? Yeah, I was flipping giddy. How perfect is this plate? And how sweet are you to send it my way? Very sweet... is the reply. I hope you have one, too. This plate has me strutting like a rooster, and clucking like a hen. My lunch today was far more scrumptious than it would have been on an ordinary plate. Life is beautiful, chickens are a hoot, and you are a very kind friend. See you soon, I hope.

Natalie, The Chickenblogger

{If anyone is looking to improve their lunch, fancy-up their dessert, or just get flipping giddy... Robin found this Cluck plate at Marshalls. Good luck!}

Five Good Things

At last, soup weather! After Halloween we got a night of rain, and a blustery day that we spent cleaning, playing, and relaxing. It was nice. Real nice. For dinner, I made broccoli soup... funny, I took pictures of almost everything, but the broccoli. I started with leeks, and sautéed those, and carrots. I gave the fresh spinach a quick flash in the hot pan, too. The broccoli was steamed, and everything went into the blender with water. While that blended, I made a buttery roux, with a good dollop of cream. White pepper, salt, a handful of cheddar cheese, and a dash of crushed red pepper finished the seasoning. Alex and Max made a run to the market for a loaf of sourdough bread... and we got that warm and toasty in the oven. William made a salad. Everything was delicious. Maria had seconds, and Max asked for another soup dinner the very next day. I'd been thinking what a good leftover lunch this could make, but when dinner was through our pot was empty!

Good Things...

1. Friends who join the merriment, and share in Halloween fun.

2. Rain, and wool socks, and soup, and a fire in the fireplace, and reading aloud.

3. Someone (J.A.N.E.C.E.) who comes the day after the big event, and helps clean up. It didn't feel like chores. What a lovely gift.

4. Sitting around, as the party winds down, so happily engrossed in the conversation and good company, that it doesn't even feel like midnight.

5. Getting an email with a picture of your bestie on vacation. Thank you, Fred. Anna B: Pura Vida suits you!

Can you believe it's November? I took the Halloween playlist off of my iPhone, and added Christmas (evenIcannotbelievethis!) tunes! Is it too soon? Last night I drove to the market with twinkle lights on in my Jet Puff. I simply adore this time of year, so why not fill it up and revel in the joy? Happy November! Happy anticipation of seasonal delights. I wish you a very good week.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Halloween :: Well, That Was Awesome!

Early arrivers were seated at the sweetest banquet in town, either that or they were put to work, because getting ready for this event called for all hands on deck!

William has been envisioning, collecting and preparing this scene for at least a year.

There were lots of treats, and more and more as friends joined us with their generous contributions.

Decorating... all the credit goes to William, and Maria, and Alex, and Max. They took charge, and every bit of it was spectacular spooktacular!

All these months of wishing and begging for rain, so what do you think we had in our forecast?? We were spared serious downpours until well after the festivities. Weather-wise, we couldn't have had it better!

Yes. Yes, I do visit Pinterest. Why do you ask? This sausage and spaghetti gag still has me tickled. I'm so glad we attempted this!

Jacob and Alex made satellites with the vegetarian sausages. These were so fun to make, and when you boil the pasta, you get a platter full of sausages impaled with noodles!

Envy and May Chang, battle it out, while William the swashbuckling looks on.

All those posts about britches, waistcoats, pistols and swords? Yes, these are some of the creations William has been making.

Bambi and Maria are characters from Full Metal Alchemist. Not friends in the manga, but they put all that aside for the party.

Max, Bambi, Maria, and William. Before too many guests arrive, I have the sense to take pictures, and make people stand still and smile for me!

The Full Metal crew: May Chang, Wrath, Envy, and Greed. AKA Maria, Max, Bambi, and Alex.

John, Ruth, Maria, Max, Bambi, Alex, William, and Jacob.
Ruth's costume? Hands down the most original... she's the Paint Chip Fairy, and she's come to help us find the perfect shade of blue for our Bird House!

Here are Bella and Leo, all ready to join us. I borrowed some pictures from my friend Carol, which were too good to pass up.

William, Max, and Alexi. Besides tirelessly making his costume and props, cleaning, decorating, and editing an animation collection to play on the hanging bed sheet, William cooked, too.

Here comes the night!

Here come more guests! Paul and William were pirate bros.

Here's George Adin Washington!

This. Carol, these were a big hit! Not just adorable, but people were talking about how tasty they were, too. If you cannot tell, those little brooms are cheese on pretzels, tied with a chive.

And aren't these the cutiest pumpkins ever? Carol and Mim favored us with these treats!

George and Liz getting a shot of those brooms. If they post their pictures, I may have to add even more to this post.

Have I mentioned how much I love potluck? Yes, I probably have... everyone brings such good stuff. We had a feast, for sure.

Okay... well, I was sort of relieved that Mrs. Lovett left her pies at home. Sharon, you look mahvelous, dahling!

Sun Wukong knows how to make an entrance. Grant is The Monkey King.

Okay... I hope I can get this right... we have a Pokeman(?) Help me out here, Corey! Alex is Yu Gi Oh. (Right?) I recognize Stacy Ninja Turtle... her smile is a sure giveaway!

Goat! Oh my gosh, Suki, just melts my heart.

All the fun... every new guest brought more smiles and laughter. The house was full of smiles and laughter.

I spy Hermione Granger.

Maria and Suki, my girls.

Maria, you are tireless and sweet. For all your help, support, encouragement, and enthusiasm before, during, and after, I offer you my deepest, warmest thanks and love. You bless us.

Here's another one I had to steal from Carol's FB page.... here's my sweet friend with her baby boy, Leo. Okay, he's not a baby, but she and I know how quickly it all goes, and we can't help hanging on for as long as possible!

Here's my baby, making a salad for us.

And Corina, and Patricia came, and Michael, and Chris. It's nice seeing friends wherever you look.

It was a small hassle keeping 45 sugar skulls safe, but totally worth the effort. Decorating them was a big hit.

Stacy is cutting the foil for eyes.

Suki was ready to try this for weeks. Of course, she was a natural sugar skull artist. Everyone was... we have lots of proof.

Sarah, Alex-the quick change artist, and Jacob

Wait... is that Amy Farrah Fowler? Okay, I admit, I had to Google that one, but I know this great couple as Mim and Chaz.

I spy Audrey II, Amy Farrah Fowler, a Centurion, Seymour, and Yu-Gi-Oh.

Okay, George... everyone keeps asking me, "Who was Stimson dressed as?" The consensus is you were Stimson, and all agree that is pretty awesome.

And James and Celine. This picture makes me feel all warm and wamesy inside.

We shared a feeling about this party... we wanted it to include the thrill of the candy quest, trick-or-treating, and we wanted it to be an unapologetic, all ages-sizes-entities welcome, candy and treats extravaganza. So we took candy and treat donations, set up Mim at the cottage, Paul in the barn, and Grant down in the shed, then distributed bags to anyone eager to trick-or-teat!

What a triumph! Huge shout out to the distributors who took charge of their stations, and gave all the revelers thrills, chills, challenges, and fun.

There were plenty of treats and laughs to go around. Some screams, too!

Good stuff.

I want to do this every. year. forever. Grant, you had standing ovations, and rave reviews.

Looks like Lucas passed his test.

Still Maria. I see she sort of morphed throughout the night. And, yes, we do get the best weather for Halloween.

The collection of animated shorts William put together played on the side of the shed. It was a happy attraction that played all night.

We know the sweetest people.

Grant, James, Suki, Sarah, John, Alex, Bambi, Celine, Jacob, and William. These people. Oh. My. It's the greatest feeling to know such good people, and to share their company.

We are lucky. We have great friends. We have room to share, to spread out, to play.

William's cemetery, always a highlight.

Lucas, Alexi, and Max... magic is gathering.

Decorating the sugar skulls was so fun, we had two rounds.

It was inspiring, contagious fun.

Carol got this great shot of Marla, aka Audrey II.

We were up 'til midnight! It was grand!

Amira-Hermione trying on the Audrey hat. Sharon, you have to come over when we are in sewing moods, again... you make great stuff!

Gathering in the living room, a Magic viewing.

They even managed to squeeze in a game.

Janece, Mim, Natalie, and Carol. {If I have one regret it's not taking even more pictures of everyone! Otherwise, Halloween was awesome.}