Monday, May 31, 2010

Canon DSLR Error 99

FIXED! I just saved $300 by fixing an error 99 message myself instead of sending it to Canon via Keeble and Shuchat. Maybe I'll get under the car to fix the muffler next...oh yeah, belly won't fit :-)

Imagine my shock when the camera locked the other day as we are arriving at the Academy of Sciences to play with dear friends. I am ecstatic as one day away from the camera is torture. Even if I don't take a picture all day it is the fact that I CAN'T take a picture that pains me.

So for all you Canon DSLR lovers out there...

It worked! I used a pencil eraser on the lens connections (upside down to keep debris from falling into the body) on both the lens and body. I am also charging the battery but it works again!!

Now off to the park to play with friends and of take some pictures!

This is one of my favorites from another CAS trip.

What's in season

I love this chart which lists all of the vegetables available at the PA farmers market by season. This will really help me for planting in the garden as I always seem to be behind the farmers. If I work back from availability dates to make new planting dates (instead of the dates on the seed packets, or even our Common Ground planting list which seems a bit late as well) maybe I can have ripe produce when our farming friends do.

Now for morning coffee.

I'll be posting some favorite old photos for awhile as my camera is going to the shop :-( 

Sunday, May 30, 2010

DIY Playdough

I love that her crown (aka produce wrap) says organically grown!

Nature's Play Dough 

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
beet, spinach, and carrot juice
Mix flour, salt and oil, and slowly add the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring until dough becomes stiff. Turn out onto wax paper and let cool. Knead the playdough with your hands until of proper consistency. Use as is, or divide into balls and add a few drops of the vegetable juices to make green, pink, and orange.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Belly Love

25 weeks!

We had a much better Ob appointment this week. The doctor (different one mind you) was impressed that Gracie kept kissing the baby during the sonogram. It was nice to hear how great of a big sister she is going to be because she is so kind and caring...but I already knew that.

Gracie: "Nooooowwww is the baby ready to come out?"
Brook: "No honey, we still have three more months."
Gracie: "Oh, I am just sooooo excited."
Brook: "I know honey. Me too."

I am the luckiest mama ever!

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Fantastic Friday

for flowers.

Spring Cleaning :: Living Room Before and After

 Before. Yikes! 

And after...

**the CD's still need to be organized but this is a start**

And Gracie loves her new perch.
"I love the little leaves."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Today's Treasures

Treasures from a hike with treasured friends. Thank you for being you!

Baby or Beauty?

There are a few products that I bought for Gracie that have become beauty staples for me. I read a note on the back of the California Baby Calendula Cream that it is a great night cream for mamas and sure enough it is! I use it for diaper rash, cuts and scrapes, bug bites, sunburns, and every night for MY face. I use Dr. Haushka during the day, with suncreen applied over. When I asked why Dr. H doesn't have a face lotion with sunscreen they said that Germans just stay out of the sun. Impossible in California. Who wants to stay out of the sun anyway?

I also use a drop of lanolin for lip balm in the morning or overnight if I have really chapped lips. I had this tube left over from early breastfeeding days with Gracie and was going to throw it out until I read on another blog(?) that it is a great lip balm. It is also great for cuticles.

Now I am looking for other uses for Gracies numerous "beauty" products. Have you found any?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Banana Pancakes

We're having too much fun reading books, singing songs and pushing furniture around so at 6 pm we have no idea what is for dinner and I wasn't as crazy about last night's soup as Gracie and Ryan. Let's put in some Jack Johnson and have banana pancakes!

We sometimes have the Vegetarian Times pancake mix ready to go in the freezer but instead we are using TJ's multigrain mix

2 mashed bananas
2 1/2 cups pancake mix
1 cups milk
2 Tsps oil
2 eggs
I also like to add chopped pecans sometimes

17 Bean and Barley Soup

Thank goodness for Trader Joe's. We love that place. I picked up a bag of their 17 Bean and Barley Mix and we are making the soup recipe on the back. We soaked the beans overnight and all day but this would make a great slow cooker recipe, soaking them overnight and then adding the other ingredients in the morning to cook all day while you play.

17 Bean and Barley Soup:

One bag bean and barley mix or 2 cups mixed beans
Soak overnight or quick soak (boil and rest for one hour)

2 tsps olive oil
1 cup onion chopped
1 cup carrot chopped
1 cup celery chopped
**TJ's also sells the above Mirepoix chopped and ready to go in the produce section**
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 tsp basil
1 clove garlic chopped
add to drained beans along with one 32 oz vegetable broth, you may need to add more broth or water to keep beans covered as they cook
simmer for one hour+
add chopped tomatoes
**tomatoes and salt keep beans from cooking so only add when beans are tender**
serve with crusty bread and a fresh salad

Our lettuce is growing faster than we can eat it. I severely cut back the outer leaves the other day, enough lettuce for five big salads, and they had already grown back yesterday. We will prune again tomorrow!!

Tomato update for those keeping track: the Texas Cages arrived today! We did a happy dance when UPS pulled up.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


The Pacific Tree Frogs (Pseudacris regilla) are growing and leaving the pond. This little froglet still has a tail. It was fun watching Gracie trying to catch them with little luck. She is quite the herpetologist though.

Soulemama Wisdom

My favorite blog is Soulemama. My fascination with her started with her first book, The Creative Family, and then I found her perfect blog. She is an inspiration. She is also very real. When I am having a hard day, and I am so fortunate that they are few and far between, I often think back to a wonderful post she had. Her husband came home to find bikes and toys and children scattered all over the yard and Amanda sitting on the porch watching the chaos. He walked up to check in or offer support or make sure she was still alive. He looked down at the table next to her and saw a large glass of wine and a much larger bowl. She then smiled and said "we're having popcorn for supper tonight!"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spring Cleaning :: Kitchen and Dining Before and After

"Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
--William Morris, 19th century architect

So it has started. I am nesting. I want to clean everything these days and have everything ready for the little one but the baby isn't due for months. I am trying to channel my energy into cleaning and organizing the house. Good timing as we have company coming next week (Yeah Grammie!) I really don't like to clean or organize and always put things off until they are out of control and then when I get started I LOVE IT! One of the challenges of being an only child is that neither Ryan nor I had chores or many responsibilities as kids so now it is a challenge "being adults" sometimes. Thank goodness for hormones!

I have been inspired often by the simplemom blog (and simplekids blog, but more on that later) with ideas on how to be a better home manager. I need all the help I can get. With a small house it is a relief to have a clean, organized, simple home. If only we could keep it this clean everyday.

I was going to use their guide for spring cleaning, starting with living rooms, bathrooms, kitchen, pretty much all of the public areas and then finishing with the bedroom. As I started this morning, which was a surprise as my schedule was to start with the kitchen Monday, I wanted to get Gracie's main play area clean. That involved switching with the dining area. I then realized that I simply start at one side of the house and work thoroughly toward the other side of the house, it is a better system for me. We'll see if I make it all the way over the the bedroom but here is what I have done today. YEAH ME!

I started last week with organizing my cleaners. Basic light, medium and heavy dilutions of Charlie's Soap. Simplemom also has a post about the benefits of non-toxic cleaning.

**I am not organizing much inside of cabinets, etc. as I want to get things really clean first and then I can tackle truly organizing things.**

Before. Yikes! 

 After. Phew!

I left the arches off of her playstand (built by her grandpa) so that  I can still get to the pantry and cookbooks but I can put them on when she wants a "house" and I think she uses it more when it is open. The basket on the table is for library books as we are always looking for them, to return, read, etc. 

I simplified her cooking area with less on the shelves and two bins under, one for ingredients and the other for cooking supplies. Utensils are in the basket. I used this same strategy for less on the counters in the big kitchen too, knowing the best "utensil" to have in the kitchen are open counter spaces. 

I added a hook for her backpack. I need to put two more up for Ryan and I. I have been looking for a decoration for my Home Management Binder (behind the canisters) and while clearing the fridge door of excess artwork I realized that her beautiful watercolors are the perfect solution. My HMB holds (or should hold) calendars, garden charts, phone lists, babysitter sheets, shopping lists, etc. 


This dining space just needs something for the wall above the dining table, some pretty linens and a bouquet of spring flowers. I have been trying to get a print of the Grace Baking Company's logo. I love that it has the golden gate in the background.

Now for a cup of tea.

Friday, May 21, 2010

What we're growing right now

We planted these Trombetta seeds yesterday in the garden. It is an Italian heirloom squash that has a mild artichoke flavor. It is a climber so we are growing it up a trellis as well as along a fence. 

Two of our other favorite squash/zucchini have sprouted in the three sisters garden and are growing nicely--Romanesco and Ronde de Nice.

We are going to plant two Zapotec tomatoes today as well at three Matt's Wild Cherries. Then our tomato beds may be full. On to eggplant and peppers! 

We had a great day with Ryan yesterday for his birthday. It was pretty much a perfect day. He rode his long board the two miles down our road on our way into town. Then we had brunch at our favorite cafe. We planted some seeds at the garden while he rested in his adirondack and then we had dinner with our favorite neighbors. Unfortunately he had to go back to work at 9 pm until 4 am so he is resting now but we had two sweet days to celebrate his past 34 years and the many more to come. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy Birthday My Love

We love loving you.

We love your smile!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Finding sustainability. Finding strength.

**Disclaimers- I am pregnant and very hormonal. It is raining today so I am not getting my hands into the dirt. Gracie did not nap yesterday. I am not not napping right now.**

Sustainability. That seems to be the buzz word these days. Usually it refers to food in this neck of the woods. Today, I am thinking about my family. We need sustainability--a sustainable system that works for us.

It started a few weeks ago at my monthly Ob-Gyn appointment. I was seeing a new doctor. We rotate through  the practice to develop a relationship with all of them as any one of them could be the actual doctor during delivery--by the way I am NOT very keen on this rotation and wish I could guarantee the doctor that I actually like but....
So I was seeing a new doctor. She looked pregnant as well. She asked Gracie if she goes to school and when Gracie said "no" she asked if she was going to be going to school soon. Then when I said "no" she started to ask/lecture me about if I have help at home because I am going to need it and she is going to regress and it is going to be hard and...blah, blah, blah. Now wait a damn second hear. Aren't you supposed to be concerned about the baby in my body not the one sitting next to me? I realize that there are not to many full-time moms in my neighborhood that don't have nannies, and house cleaners, etc. etc. but I did have the clarity to remind her that there are millions of women around the world that do it and I think we are going to be just fine thank you very much. ^&$%((&#.

No, I didn't start cussing but I wanted to start crying when I got in the car, and I wanted to start crying when I told Ryan about the visit. This was the first he has ever missed wouldn't you know.

Well, the other night I did start crying thanks to these darn hormones and not being able to sleep yet being so tired all of the time. And I started crying again today.

As I mentioned in my profile, I love being a mama first and foremost. I WANT to be a full-time mom. I knew it was going to be hard but I think I do a damn good job. It is my job after all! I don't want someone else doing it for me.

I also love having Ryan by my side. Unfortunately, he hasn't been by my side much lately as he is working all of the time. He knows that his workload is unsustainable, especially after my breakdown today. He is trying to figure out a way to change things so that he can be home more but that may not happen for months. At the same time we are so grateful that he has a job and that it is stable. So many friends are losing jobs in the area. Even a VP at Adobe...with three kids. I can not imagine.

But the difficulty is that I am starting to doubt myself, my abilities, my strength. Can I really do this? I can and I will but we have to find a better system.

I love my job. I do it well. But at the end of the day, I need someone to be there for me to lean on. And so does he for that matter. But our schedules are off. Out timing is all off. It reminds my of a quote or a story or something that I read somewhere about life.

Does it really happen if you don't have someone to share it with? To be your witness?

Kefir Popsicles

We love dessert. LOVE it. But our desserts are not typical desserts as Gracie really doesn't like things that are too sweet. I'm not kidding child does not like sugar! She never eats typical birthday cakes at parties, great for me. She prefers Fraiche frozen yogurt over ice cream, great for me. She will eat cookies if they have more oats, nuts and cinnamon than sugar or flour, again...great for me!
So when Clover Farms Kefir was on sale at Roberts this week I bought every flavor. We usually only get plain but I knew it would be perfect for making our favorite summer/spring dessert...popsicles. This one is mango, orange, pineapple. Next: pomegranate, acai, strawberry

We bought BPA free molds at Whole Foods a couple of years ago similar to the ones I remember using when I was little, usually at my godfather's house. Scott and Catherine always filled these with juice for their boys but I like adding a bit of yogurt  or kefir. When I make a smoothie, the extra goes into a popsicle mold for a sweet surprise later. Yummy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tomato LOVE


We ordered our Texas Tomato cages today. I got a little home"town"sick just talking to the lady on the phone because of her lovely southern accent. These folks are so nice and were willing to give the garden club a group discount for a pallet. I was just too impatient to wait for 98 to be ordered from the group and honestly didn't want to deal with some club members that have attitudes about tomato cages. Maybe next year when we will obviously need more...see below :-)

We are starting with 12 knowing full well that that is plenty of tomatoes for a family of "four" but we have more plants this year so will use the tiny cages from years past OR TTC in the middle of the row and redwood stakes on the outside rows (with pruning and support with twine).

These really are the best cages as they never rust, fold flat for storage, are actually strong enough to support a healthy 6 foot tomato plant, and provide enough space for picking between the supports. They will last a lifetime.

So the question is...what twelve (or 24) plants do we year? This year we will have 30 plants or so. Yes...crazy! We need to have early, mid and late season as well as cherry, slicers and paste.

**We got some more seedlings at Roger Reynolds Friday (from female owned Upstart Seedlings) only to realize on SUnday that it is the same company that sells at out farmer's market for 2.50 HALF PRICE of nurseries 4.99.
NOTE TO SELF-buy in Santa Cruz or FM next year. They were even selling gallon tomatoes in April for 5.99. Why bother with seeds?**

So far we have planted:
Sungold - our favorite, three scraggly in the ground and another seedling today (4) - 57 days
Green Grape - small and bushy, will we like this one? (3) - 60 days
Sun Sugar - cherry and the plant is BIG with flowers and fruit already (1)  - 62 days
San Francisco Fog - the plant is BIG already (3) - 70 days
Green Zebra - (3) - 75 days
Mamma Mia paste - these are also large as we planted in april (5) - 80 days
Zapotec pleated - mexican heirloom (2) - 80 days
Black Krim - (1) plus (1) more today since a gopher stole the other. -

Below are the new seedlings from Upstart.
I went for variety instead of quantity so that we can determine what our favorites are.

Sun Gold - 57 days
Sun Cherry - 60 days
Juliet (an extended cherry) - 60 days
Sun Sugar - 62 days
Black Krim - 69 days (farmer's favorite at the market when I asked. He likes all of the darks.)
Chocolate Chery - 70 days
Caspian Pink - 80 days

And the seedlings we are still growing:

Unknown Robert's market cherry -
Chadwick's Cherry - 70 days
Matt's Wild Cherry - 70 days
Crimson Carmello - 70 days
Costoluto Genovese - 85 days

We can put these in as a second round for a late fall into winter harvest (thanks for the tip from Micah, a fellow gardener and friend in the club. We love her family and Gracie adores her daughter Sophie. We have watched her grow into a lovely little toddler at the garden.)

We planted red rubin and genovese basil between tomatoes on the four outer rows and started radishes under. They will be harvested before the melons get big (which grow under as well). We planted melons in between the tomato down the two middle aisles.

We also put in the cucumbers on the outer rows of the cuc bed. 4 Baby Persian, 4  Lemon, 8 Pickling, 4 Satsuki Madori, 4 Sweet Armenian. They will all crawl up the trellis to make shade for the lettuces  we will plant under after we harvest the garlic, yellow and red onions.

This is a great tomato website. The ultimate in fact. He links to his grower who also has great growing advice. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Basic Black Beans and Chilaquiles

We bought epazote to put in the garden this week but I was pleasantly surprised today when I found a volunteer plant in the strawberry/asparagus bed to harvest from for this. This is a basic bean recipe revised from Rick Bayless (LOVE him) that every mexican household always has brewing. I put the beans in the slow cooker this morning and added the onion when we got back from the garden.

Basic Black Beans:
3 cups dried black beans
7 cups water
cook on low in slow cooker 6 hours or until tender
1 onion
2 Tsps olive oil until golden brown
add to beans with
1 spring epazote
1 tsp salt
cook on low 1 hour

remove half of the beans for Gracie and other meals

add 2 chipotle chiles in adobe (which I always have in the freezer) diced
remove epazote sprig
bend with immersion blened to make it a bit soupy
add 8 corn tortillas cut into pieces (I LOVE the TJ's handmade tortillas and try to have them in the freezer)
cover and cook until tender

serve with creme fraiche/sour cream/yogurt drizzled over
crumbled feta
diced avocado

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Perfect afternoon light and Pantry Pasta

I'm not posting this photo for the pasta ingredients as much as to try to capture how amazing the light is this time of day through my kitchen window. I just put fuchsia and pink million bells in the baskets yesterday and a hummingbird already found it today. What a view while doing dishes!
It is 5:45 and Gracie is still napping so I am whipping up another pantry pasta--this time it mimics my favorite pizza with artichoke hearts, feta and garlic. I'll toss it with egg pappardelle and fresh oregano. Not fresh at all but we are stocking up at the FM tomorrow and will eat the rest of our, yes OUR greens tonight in a salad with vinaigrette.

Pantry Pasta:
8 oz pappardelle 10-12 minutes

olive oil
2 cloves garlic
artichoke hearts 14 oz
a handful of rinsed kalamatas

toss with chopped oregano, 
4 oz feta

garnish with chopped tomatoes on top or sliced sun dried 

This little bunny...

loves carrots!

I love this chart which lists all of the vegetables available at the PA farmers market by season. This will really help me for planting in the garden as I always seem to be behind the farmers. If I work back from availability dates to make new planting dates (instead of the dates on the seed packets, or even our Common Ground planting list which seems a bit late as well) maybe I can have ripe produce when our farming friends do. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

What we're growing right now


We started these seeds today. It would be fun to grow our own sponges!

Our last batch of Scarlet Runner beans didn't sprout so we started some in flats to make sure they germinate. I also planted some by the fence to see if the second round will do better. Gracie calls them magic beanstalks.

Butano State Park

#14 - Our home away from home.

The best mother's day ever! We had so much fun and Gracie was so sad to leave. We assured her we could come back in a couple weeks. We are so fortunate that we live so close to this magical place.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Green with Envy

We ate OUR OWN greens last night! It was a mix of baby kale, baby chard, and four lettuces. We have to cover our lettuce to protect it and are still losing quite a bit but we haven't lost it all as in the past. We also have a container growing heirloom lettuces that are an inch tall which I will bring back to the house to cut baby greens. It is a lot of work growing your own lettuce with small yields but it really does taste better when you grow your own. Next I will build a raised bed with a built in screened top that we simply lift to harvest. Well, next year maybe. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

This past week we were in Pescadero and ate quite a bit of Duarte's Ollalieberry and Strawberry Rhubarb preserves. It is too early to get Ollalieberries so I made this delicious little number to bring a bit of our vacation home. The picture is not the best but I guarantee you the dessert is. The perfect balance of tart and sweet. We will try this with peaches and blueberries in anther month or so.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
for fruit base mix
sprinkle of brown sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
large container of strawberries, quartered
6+ long slender stalks of rhubarb, diced
place in a baking dish

for crisp mix
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup raw coconut
1/4 cup brown sugar
dash of cinnamon
grate 1/2 stick butter with a cheese grater
pour over berries and bake for 30 minutes