Thursday, April 28, 2011

Learning to simplify with abundance

When my oldest son, now age 23, was the age of my youngest son, now age 2 1/2, (not a type-o, they are more than 20 years apart) I created elaborate Easter baskets for him each year.  When I shopped for him, I always wanted to, somehow, be able to buy him MORE.  He doesn't remember those Easter baskets and I just remember being stressed about pulling it all together and how it somehow looked like lots of stuff, but not very personal.  And how much love went into it.  Throughout the year, I was always on the lookout for great stuff for his basket. 

For my dear little one, now, I want to do special things that are simpler, hand-made, and somehow...richer.  I started by crocheting eggs, with little chicks, but then realized he doesn't know what eggs are yet, since we don't eat them all that often at home and it wouldn't mean that much to him.  Note to self--teach him about eggs and where they come from! 
I had purchased a darling knit bunny pattern book, but didn't have time enough to make them.  I first saw the bunnies on Alicia Paulson's lovely blog Posie Gets Cozy.  Luckily, the book with the knitted bunnies (see Ravelry project) also had a cute little chicken pattern--and he DOES know what chickens are!  I also wanted to grow my own wheatgrassnn for his basket, but that didn't work out either, so I just bought some and stuffed it into his basket.  Next year, I'll try again on the home-grown, but I was very happy with the results.

He likes the chickens, but was even more thrilled with the chocolate eggs.  Of which I ate some when he was napping.  Yes, I am a bad person.  I know that.  But he doesn't.  Yet. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spicy soup!

I once had this memorable spicy carrot soup at the Sacramento Natural Foods Coop cafe and have always wanted to try making it at home.  I did some recipe research and came up with my own version.  It was quick, easy, and yum!

1/2 Onion, chopped
2 Tblsp EVOO
2 cloves Garlic (no need to chop, see "secret" tip in recipe)
6-7 Carrots, grated
1 small Yam, grated
2 tsp fresh Ginger, grated
2 1/2 cups Water
1 small can Tomato Paste (would have used fresh tomatoes, if I had any)
1 Bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried Chile pepper flakes
1/4 tsp Cayenne
1/2 can Lite Coconut Milk
Salt and Pepper, to taste (I used very little, next time will use no salt)

1.  Saute the Onion in the oil for 5-7 minutes
2.  Add the Garlic, Carrots, Yam, and Ginger, saute for 5 mins
3.  Add the Tomato Paste, Water, and spices
4.  Cover and simmer until the Carrots, Yam, and Garlic are tender (about 15 mins)
5.  Pull the Garlic to the side of the pan and mash with a fork ( need to mince the garlic ahead of time!)
6.  Add Coconut Milk and cook for 2-3 minutes
7.  Test flavor, adjust spices if needed, and serve!

Photos to follow, not a pretty soup but very yummy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Laugh, love, live...

I often start my morning in poor, grumpy humor--which frustrates me and has the unfortunate effect of making me grumpier.  (And yes, I do see the humor in that, but, sadly, never quite in the moment where it might do some good.)  Does this happen to you?  Instead of being thankful for all my many, many blessings...I find myself focused on one complaint after another, usually involving some mean judgement on my husband or the world in general.  It's a habit I repeat most days (well, that is the definition of a habit, now isn't it?) but today something wonderful happened which I hope (fingers crossed...let it be true!) will be a bit of a cure.  As part of my journey in trying to address this unhappy habit, (as you can probably guess, it hasn't been helpful to a happy marriage even though we are pretty darn happy together in spite of my unfortunate failings) I have, at least, stopped VOICING my complaints most days.  Today, I asked God (OK, maybe it was more of a demand than a request), but I did ask him to help me shut up the voice of the devil that whispers all of these mean, discontented, unfair, irrational thoughts into my head.  It didn't work at first, so I wearily suggested to Got that it might need his full powers today.  Immediately, I thought "What have you DONE?  God's full powers???  Ack!!!   I take it back!  I take it back!  Then I thought, "Well I do need a bit more of his power..."  Here's the funny thing.  I suddenly heard the voice of Montgomery Scott from Star Trek saying "I'm giving her all she's got, captain." in his Scottish brogue and Captian Kirk yelling back "We need more power!"  And just like that!  My unhappy mood vanished and I was laughing out loud.  Suddenly able to feel love for my husband and gratitude for the day.  Another prayer answered using the voices from Star Trek...