Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Recipes!

One of my favorite parts about the holidays is menu planning and cooking for my family! I LOVE to go all out and make a bunch of food, some simple and some quite fancy. I thought I'd post a few recipes I'm making this year and some holiday favorites...

My go-to Christmas cocktail is the Poinsettia! I usually make these for brunch on Christmas morning but they are a good pre-dinner cocktail too.

Poinsettia Cocktail

For the second year in a row I've decided to do a Feast of Seven Fishes but this year I've added a Swedish twist. Everything will be served in courses, but Smorgasbord style. Many of the dishes are cold or appetizer-like and a few are hot. 

Here's a LOBSTER recipe I'm very excited to try! This soup course will be a after the cold appetizers and before the hot entrees.

Lobster Stew

For the hot entrees we'll be having Swedish Meatballs with mushroom gravy and Lingonberry jam. and also with mini Crab Cake Bites with Roasted Red Pepper - Chive Aioli. Swedish Smorgasbord is just not complete without meatballs! These will take the place of one of my 'fish' dishes. I think they both will look very pretty on the plate together and pair well with the sides of dill new potatoes and tomato arugula salad. 

Panko Crusted Crab Cake bites

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It got hot and I got lazy

August was a sluggish month for me. It was scorching hot outside and it made the majority of the day feel, well, like the thick of summer. Over 95 degrees and a mile high from sea level feels just like it sounds... like a broiling pan. We did get a bunch of afternoon rain which cooled the temperatures but added humidity. It felt like Florida! There, heat of August crushed down on the joys of summer, forcing everyone inside to the AC because the heat mid-day would just make you dizzy and overheated. Asher gets red faced and lethargic despite the cold pool water and frozen popsicles so we go inside to watch finding Nemo and lay under the fan. Did I mention our swamp cooler broke for a few days? Yeah.

Creatively and spiritually I felt sluggish too. Maybe because the beginning of summer was abundant with it. Maybe I just got lazy. By mid month all of the routines I had been working to establish, like yoga and blogging and meditation were a struggle. But alas, September finally arrived! And it feels like August! I kid, it's slightly better but still pretty darn hot for Colorado but at least I'm feeling an upswing in energy again.

I have decided to do a mini 30 day challenge this month. Instead of writing it down and giving it so much outward acknowledgement, I'm just silently doing one positive thing every day that makes a BETTER ME. Simple, subtle, but the shift in mental energy is huge. So far it has been taking better care of my skin, getting up and taking a walk before Asher and Geof are awake, less wine and more lemon water, being a better listener, etc. September is one of my favorite months! It's the transition between summer and fall. It's my birthday month and the start of the season of Giving Thanks. I am thankful it has arrived!

A few pictures from our August:
In the garden

Garden fresh dinner, y'all! 

Lunch in Golden on Clear Creek

Trying to beat the heat inside!

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Libra and her throat chakra

Vishuddha (throat) chakra is known as the purification centre. In its more abstract form, it is associated with higher discrimination, and it is associated with creativity and self-expression. When Vishuddha is closed, we undergo decay and death. When it is open, negative experiences are transformed into wisdom and learning. Guilty feeling is the most prominent reason for this chakra to block the Kundalini Energy moving upwards. - wikipedia

I'm a Libra, the sign of the scales and I'm constantly striving for balance. Personally speaking, I think I do a good job maintaining balance but this could be because how I go about obtaining balance is a constant thread in my daily life. Too much work, I find time to play. Feeling confused, I make time to meditate. Not treating my body as good as I can, I take note and take steps to fix that - like more yoga, less indulgence, more water. Of course, life ebbs and flows and things get out of balance regardless of our best efforts to avoid it. Recently I came across, "A balanced Libra is naturally and deeply concerned with the processes of giving and receiving love". This is so right on and why I have subconsciously (and consciously) adopted One Love, One Life as my mantra. One Love, One Heart, One God, and so on. It's all love, we are one, and love is my religion. I mean, God is love, right? Makes sense to me!

I digress... Seeking balance has led me to know this about myself: My throat chakra is easily put off of balance. It's hard to explain, but it sort of feels like a lump in my throat. It's restricted and tight and my shoulders knot up. This summer I've been paying special attention to that fact and doing a few healing techniques to keep things in check such as singing, dancing to music, humming, listening to the wind chime outside which is tuned to "A", meditating on the color sky blue, blogging (journaling), and reading out loud. I'll admit, most of my singing, dancing, and reading out loud is for Asher but I've being doing it more frequently, keeping in mind that all of those vibrations are healing for me too.

I found this information on the Fifth Chakra or Vishuddha, on the Om Times website: and Awareawakening.com
The throat chakra is located in the neck, and operates from an awareness of others and the development of love and compassion. This is the place where your authentic voice is expressed. The throat is a meeting place where you assimilate what is brought in from the outside and a departure point for your thoughts and feelings. This chakra may also be linked to addictive behavior. If you suppress your true feeling or ignore deeper pain issues you will need a coping mechanism to self-sooth. The throat chakra is also a bridge between body and head. When it is open there is clear communication between mind and heart. There it balances compassion, wisdom and thought, feeling and giving and receiving. If open this chakra can transform negative to positive and heal your inner wounds. The archetypes for this chakra are silent child and communicator.
Silent child suppress its emotions and feelings. The unexpressed feelings include frustration, anger and violence. It chooses to hold on to feelings rather than to express them and does not want to expose its hurt, pain, anger and possibly abuse. Sometimes these emotions can be channeled to a creative outlet. It is also possible that they may remain unexpressed and stagnate and fester.  It may try to cope with its pain by using drugs, nicotine, food and alcohol to lessen its feelings. It learns to feel safe by locking away and hiding feelings or masking them with humor. Locking these feelings away rather than expressing, weakens the energy of this chakra. It fears experiencing the pain as well as opening the possibility of rejection and further hurt.  Swallowing away words and feelings the silent child closes its energy center and weakens its life force. This archetype struggles to make itself heard and to feel it matters. It finds outlets for expression in creative arts, such as dancing, acting or music. Feeling less important than those around it, makes it difficult to communicate needs and feelings. Those feelings can turn to rage and grief. These feelings along with frustration from never being heard, sinks down into its consciousness. It is in mourning the loss of self that the silent child begins to heal. It learns to speak up and be heard. Because feelings have been held back for so long the first sounds silent child makes may be grunts, groans and tantrums. They reflect the original wounding of not feeling seen, heard and loved. Creative expression may be to easiest first steps towards authentic expression of self. This would allow silent child to open the door and express the energy that has been held and suppressed. There it has the opportunity to express its individuality, inner truth and find the freedom to communicate while releasing and transforming pain.
The Communicator has taken responsibility for expressing how it feels, what it needs and what it wants from life. It has learned how this dissipates negative energy and allows more positive energy in. Speaking up and being heard allows direct connection to higher self. The communicator speaks from higher self and expresses itself with clarity and purpose. It has acknowledged that gossip, criticism, and cursing is negative expression that does not support its development. Negative expression can wound well-being. The communicator is mindful of the words it chooses, in both what it says and what it absorbs. It is sincere and always chooses the right action.  The communicator stands by its word and is trust worthy, and has personal integrity. It overcomes all negativity by being direct, honest and positive. It understands the healing power of the spoken word.  Speaking from both mind and heart it is able to communicate its feelings and thoughts in a way that empowers both itself and the listener. It understands its inner truth and recognizes the free will of others, thus it never tries to manipulate or force others. It instead clearly communicates with others and supports the well-being of all. - Lynn Zambrano R.N.
How to clear and balance your throat chakra:
Using the voice is an obvious tool to balance this chakra. Sing songs, hum the mantra HAM or any sounds you like, breathe consciously and feel the air in your airways. Express your feelings and thoughts, give your opinion. Take time to listen to what others have to say in a conversation. If the weather is clear, go outside and gaze at the clear blue sky. Otherwise use blue images or artworks or materials as color therapy.

By tuning into and listening to what my body is telling me, sometimes the problem becomes quite clear. If only I always had the clarity and introspection to stop and listen, but life gets in the way, right?! I've learned most of these tuning in and balancing skills through practicing yoga over the past 15 years or so... which reminds me I really owe myself some time on my mat!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Process of the garden, in pictures

process - a sustained phenomenon or one marked by gradual changes through a series of states

Last night it was taking a while to fall asleep so I opened the photo gallery on my phone and flipped through some recent photos. I realized I really enjoy capturing the process of things - gardening, the construction of our landscape project, cooking, crafting, or how the city looks from the top of our park throughout the seasons. So I thought I'd blog about some of it, using mostly pictures. 

This is my very first garden and I've had this spot planned out since we bought the house 5 years ago. Planning it, watching it grow, and learning along the way has been so gratifying! There's nothing like being able to get your hands into the earth in the early morning and seeing what has transpired overnight. Cultivating the soil, checking for bugs and pest damage and problem solving the issues, the smell of tomato plants and herbs in the air as you water, all of this is really grounding. 

Thoughts and stress float away... as Audrey Hepburn said, 
"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow" 

My giant pile of soil to move

Building and filling
Hey, I grew that! 


Tiny "California Gold" pepper emerges

The first zucchini bloom

First cucumber bloom! Each flower turns to a vegetable

Yellow Pear Tomatoes getting started

A few weeks in

These are male zucchini flowers, the female flowers have yet to bud

These flowers are edible. You pick them while they are closed and you can stuff them, fry them, or use in salads

Spring mix is starting to grow

As well as butter lettuce

I spy a ripe tomato

First veggies are ready! Learning lots of patience this summer

Painted rocks to trick the squirrels... Have yet to eat one strawberry!

Filling in nicely! Our garden owl keeps birds away

First "Salt and Pepper Cucumber"

Changes as the summer heat takes over. Cilantro died and everything needs extra water. The lettuce needs misting in the afternoon or it wilts and turns bitter
Added new basil plants, hoping to have some late summer pesto!

My petite "Red Robbin" tomato plant. These were stollen by squirrels...

Squirrels eat our first zucchini.... Cayenne pepper is now sprinkled all over our garden and it seems to be working

One very large pepper, just waiting for that "California Gold" color!

Salad mix

First lettuce greens harvest

Nothing like picking your salad greens 10 minutes before dinner! Yay!

We love to garden! Happy about the zucchini harvest! 

After cultivating the soil

After cultivating the soil


Been thinking about crafting a sign for my garden for a while...
Perfect! My first garden. I'm in love.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A typical day

I thought it would be interesting to document what a typical day at home with Asher entails, mostly for my own amusement because at the end of the day I often wonder... "What the hell did we DO today? I'm beat!" It's Friday, mind you, and we are home without the car so we'll be keeping it reeeaaal casual.

5:00am - My alarm goes off... for the first time in weeks... because I decided I should get up early and blog and do yoga. I briefly wake, laugh, and turn it off.

6:45am - Asher stirs, Collins gets on the bed. I go get Asher and his "BANKET" (His only attachment) and put him down. He takes off running and talking and I then I know what type of day I'm in for. Those first morning moments are pretty indicative of his mood for the day. We call dada to say good morning, who is in Houston for work.

7:00 - 8:00am - Getting milk and cereal x 2, making coffee, watching the news and cartoons, changing diapers.

8:15am - Banana Break. The one word he doesn't want to even attempt to say is the word banana. He says "Maaaaa"---> ? Start laundry. We go outside to check on and water the garden, prep the pool water if it's going to be a hot day, water plants, sweep up, reheat coffee x 2. Make a fort for Asher (and Collins). Call my sister to wish her a happy "Golden" birthday.

9:00am - Sit outside with my computer and attempt to blog. I say attempt because in about 3 minutes Asher will need something. He plays in his fort until...

9:05am - Poopy diaper
9:10am - Talk to mom
9:30am - Attempt to blog
9:35am - Asher asks for berries

9:40-10:15am - Attempt to blog... See how it goes? The morning just goes so quickly! Put on Sesame Street and attempt to finish writing. This helps.

11:00am - Put Asher down for nap time, publish blog post! It took all morning, well it took a week to actually sit down and do it, but success at last! Now 'breakfast' for me while catching up on emails, facebook, calling and talking to Geof about travel, and figuring out plans for our weekend...

11:37am - Abandon planning weekend... Getting in 30 minutes of yoga! Then take a chill break before the boy wakes up.

12:30 - 2:00pm - Made a fried egg & Canadian bacon breakfast sandwich for Asher and I to split for lunch. Then we wrestled it off and played with Collins. Put on some music and danced to a few songs. Changed poopy diapers.

2:15pm - Dishes. My least favorite task. Change out laundry, pick up the house. Or attempt to pick up the house. Have you ever done this with a toddler trailing you? Yeah... productive!

2:45 -  4:00pm - Play time and a popsicle break outside. Sweeping up and windexing the table for dinner tonight! Sit down to upload the photos of the day and it starts to sprinkle, naturally. Play ball and trucks with the boy instead. Nevermind, it's perfect and sunny again! Oh, Colorado :)

4:00-4:30pm - Shower, change. It may be 4:00 but it DID happen!

4:30pm - Put Asher down for a few minutes. He normally naps twice per day but some days he goes down to one nap. This transition can't be finished with quick enough! He gets cranky-pants. Watch the weather to see if the rain is going to come or not and decide I had better water the garden. While watering the garden, it starts to rain.

5:00pm - Back inside, Asher is laughing in his crib and I'm going to start dinner.
5:38pm - Dinner is nearly ready and I wonder if I should wake up A?
6:00pm - Dinner is served but Asher is cranky because I woke him up so he doesn't eat much. My dinner was fantastic! The best part is a lot of the ingredients came from my garden and my neighbor's garden. SO LOCAL and fresh! I'll call it:
Summer Garden Pasta: 
A whole wheat pasta with a chunky tomato vegetable sauce: onion, zucchini, garlic, and baby bella mushrooms. Topped with wilted chard and garlic mushrooms, crumbled goat cheese and two types of basil
  and Green Salad: 
homemade balsamic vinaigrette and some of my garden veggies and herbs

6:45pm - Load dishwasher and then back outside for graham crackers and T-Ball.
7:45pm - Back inside to clean up, dry off (he always gets wet outside), change poopy diaper, and get into our PJ's. Three songs, two books, and one tooth brushing later - He's down for the night at 8:00pm.

I should pick up the house again but.... nah. Now to make some tea and chillax in my bedroom. Geof will be home from Houston around 9:30pm but I may already be asleep by then. Yawn....

So I have to go back and read this again but I would say this is a typical day. Switch out the blogging time for laundry some days, or switch out the yoga for a walk in the park or crafting, and then some days the boy won't nap, throws everything he touches, I get nothing accomplished, and he eats frozen sweet potato fries Boca nuggets for dinner. Some days Dada is home and some days he is not. One thing is for sure, I'm blessed to be able to grow, teach, learn, and live this dream every single day!

The hubs is home. Perfect timing!

One Love

Hello, little lady

Minutes after I posted my last blog post, guess who stopped by to check it out? It's startling because all of the sudden there's a bug crawling up my arm or leg and I first want to swat it off but (try to) remember it's my little good luck charm!

Take off

Landscaping and ladybugs

We practically live outside now! Summer is in full swing and I'm so stinking happy we decided to landscape our backyard! I won't get into all that was involved but let me just say, it was a partial nightmare do to an honest mistake the paver guy made. It had me stressing because it was a big financial investment for Geof and I to make on our home. It was one that was long overdue and that I had planned out myself, so there was a lot of emotional investment too. One day while I was outside checking on some of the problems, feeling buyers remorse and slightly heartbroken, a ladybug landed on me, the first I had seen in ages.

It was just the reminder I needed to start thinking more positively and to "stop watering the weeds and start watering the flowers". We had some problems with our pavers but there were so many other things that were perfect! I had to come to realize that it was just beyond my control and the project was mine to own and accept, imperfections and all.

Ever since then, I've been seeing my ladybug friends. A few weeks after the project was completed we set up a dining set that seats 6-8 with a rug and umbrella on the old flagstone patio. This really completed the landscaping project by incorporating the old space into the new. We sit there every day for at least one al fresco meal and if I sit there for more than 10-15 minutes my little ladybug friend shows up to say hello! 

I'm letting the garden grow in and doing a few touch ups here and there and then I'm going to do a full before and after photo comparison. It's SHOCKING! Here are a few pictures from  before and then when they first finished the job to give you an idea:


Pretty cool, right? I'm dreading the fact that winter will come, no matter how sweet the summer and this will one day be covered in snow! EEK! Say it ain't so! Until then, we're enjoying ourselves SO MUCH in our new backyard! 
Pajamas in the pool? Why not!
One Love