I didn’t get around to an Instagram Friday post; this week needed some stepping back time, a few days at the lake and alone with my own heart to become a bit more grounded, seeing life a bit clearer. I took my big camera along, which I’ve affectionately named Clara, and I was so grateful to have her there with me because the shoreline was abundant in wildflower blooms, and the butterflies and hummingbirds were a constant. We patiently waited for those perfect moments that make snapping 250 frames all worthwhile.
“we stagger through an immense summer morning after showers leave their sweet bouquet
smelling of liquid lace, lovely as a song and secret wild blossoms……”
“the sun has burned our skin dry, like a slender page,
we crack with sound and heat, like red dirt whipping on the wind
thin streams of perspiration trailing cheekbones pink with heat”
“green leaves shimmer with resigned fury against the burning sky, clouds sift by
lazily chasing the sun, tomatoes gently boil on the vine
and even my shadow has left to look for shade.” KJS
“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day
is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk
with the belief that all’s right with the world.”
– Ada Louise Huxtable
“That which God said to the rose, and caused it to laugh in full-blown beauty, He said to my heart,
and made it a hundred times more beautiful.” — Rumi
“If the foot of the trees were not tied to earth, they would be pursuing me..
For I have blossomed so much, I am the envy of the gardens.”
“Nobody sees a flower — really — it is so small it takes time — we haven’t time —
and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”
– Georgia O’Keeffe
No, not Impatiens, like the potted flower on everyone’s doorstep. This is true impatience, the feeling brought on by delayed spring time, blooms that just don’t occur, endless gray skies and parades of devastating storms and the fleeting thought that I can’t recall what my warm weather clothes are like anymore. It’s almost Memorial Day. We briefly met 70 degrees this Spring, only to quickly plunge back to the 60’s, the 50’s and a few shivering days where 40’s were all the atmosphere could muster. Who’s hogging all the 80-degree days? Minnesota needs you to share. Now.
Despite the cool weather, the lettuce and radish seeds I planted are flourishing and I’m dreaming of amazing salads. The annuals in the garden are coming along nicely, albeit several weeks behind schedule. And with the drenching rains and lack of sun, the emerald greens around us are amazing. Simply amazing. While Spring hasn’t exactly been the most glorious in terms of the temperatures and sunshine, it’s still showing me it’s fragrance and the visions that we wait all Winter to appreciate.
I missed the very brief window of opportunity to love up the crabapple tree in our front yard, as it hit full bloom on a Thursday, only to be wiped clean of it’s lush petals through a series of weekend storms that unleashed torrents of rain on us, and some terrifying sky.
And a subsequent walk through the neighborhood revealed glorious pink petal carpets from the stripped crabapple blooms.
In my garden, the Creeping Phlox filled out it’s little garden bed beautifully.
The Adjuga along the front garden path burst into a rich and full display, basking in a rare sunny day while hiding among the new Hosta blooms and the fallen pink petals.
Adjuga is a wonderful ground cover, and it grows on a flagstone path right along the front of our house. It’s mostly for shade, but can handle a little sun and it forms a nice thick carpet. In the Spring, it sends up flower stalks about 6 inches high that have these tiny little blue flowers on them. It’s one of the most favorite, carefree and reliable plants in my yard.
What else has May brought?
Oh yeah. An adorable cat of course, with nary a care in the world it seems.
A gorgeous new stove!!!
I’m still in awe over this acquisition. One of my food blogging cohorts is remodeling her kitchen and through a few Twitter exchanges, she offered to sell me her old stove for $100 and a case of beer for the guy who drove it from NE Minneapolis out to the far Northern suburbs for us. The door hinges were broken and it needed a power cleaning, but for $150 in parts and a bit of elbow grease, we landed a stove that retails for $2,200.00. I kid you not. It’s like going from driving a Yugo to being handed a Ferrari with a full tank of gas. We seriously lucked out and we’ve taken to calling it our ‘Grown Up’ stove, something a serious food lover should have in her kitchen.
There were a few lovely nights on beautiful restaurant patios with my beautiful laughing food-loving friends that only solidifies how much I am falling in love with them…..
Enjoying the tree-shaded patio at Heidi’s 2.0 in Minneapolis with the #MNFoodBloggers, Shaina and I after a few amazing cocktails. Everyone really, was as happy as we look. It was just one of those all around perfect nights.
On a rare nice night following a hectic afternoon of rain and thunder, it’s nice to find the calm after the storm.
Roasted Chickpeas. Because this is a food blog, after all. For the most part anyway.
I’m super late to the whole ‘roast a can of chickpeas for the ultimate snack’ craze. Seriously late. And I’m ok with that. I don’t jump on too many bandwagons as I always seem to miss, fall flat on my face and then have to slink away in silence, tail between my legs. I like to watch these things go by, silently waiting to see if it endures, if it sticks around long enough to not be called a fad, a trend or the next big thing. These little golden nuggets of crunchy-ness are a perfect snack for the improved eating plan going on around here. I think I could even get my Teen to try a few handfuls. They’re like Corn Nuts, but less processed, less packaged without all the strange things. I feel that these will make a regular appearance in my kitchen for a long time to come.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Drain two 15-oz cans of chickpeas and rinse well. Shake off excess water and pour chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with paper towel. Use another paper towel to blot chickpeas dry, then slip the off the bottom towel. You want them to be absolutely bone dry before roasting them. At this point, if the chickpea skins bug you in the same obsessive way they bug me, you can remove them. If not, then slip the pan in the oven and let roast for about 10 minutes. Shake the pan to loosen the chickpeas, then continue to bake, shaking the pan on occasion, until they are browned and crisp, with a rich nutty scent. Be careful not to allow them to burn. Depending on your oven, this should take 30-40 minutes. Watch them carefully.
Take them out of the oven and toss them with a little oil and any kind of seasoning you like. For this batch, I used a small amount of olive oil, the juice of half a lime and about 2-3 teaspoons each of chili powder and cumin, plus some sea salt. Toss to coat and serve warm or at room temperature.
For more flavoring options, see this post.
Winter is, surprisingly, almost over. I know that doesn’t help those out there who despise winter, snow and all things cold and dreary, but with the flip of the tomorrow’s calendar page to February, Spring is a mere six weeks out. And although it’s fair to say that March around these parts is rarely the stuff of soft Springtime, once March canters out, leaving it’s roar to fade in our eardrums, then comes April, which for us winter weary Minnesotans, is a mind-boggling thing of beauty. I believe that God made Spring so utterly enchanting to us as a means of making up for the cold darkness of winter. It’s our just and most well-deserved reward.
And of course, on the morning I come to post this lovely ode to the coming of Spring, we wake up in Minnesota to yet ANOTHER snowfall, a few more inches of fluff to cover the dreary gray masses that were appearing outside.
Soon enough everyone…….
“If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom,
maybe your soul has never been in bloom.” ~Terri Guillemets
“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” ~Virgil A. Kraft
This summer is no usual summer for me. At least not like the past five or so years when the span between May and September often found me barefoot, my head in the breezes and most likely staring down a day with little to no agenda. No, my friends, this summer is much different. There won’t be any tan lines, probably no exhilarating rides around the lake atop a kneeboard and it’s quite possible that my swimsuit will stay tucked away in the drawer. Which is kind of sad- I really like that suit.
I’m working a lot- as expected, and surprisingly, when I’m deep in my work, and not partaking in the forays into summertime that are going on around me, I don’t find myself wistfully gazing off into space, my knife in hand, fighting off an emotional tugging at my heart over what I’m missing. The moment that white coat goes on and I pick up my knife case, heading up to the kitchen with an armload of towels, my hair twisted at the nape of my neck, the rest of the world falls away and my passion takes over. I don’t miss out on anything because I am right where I want to be. Often I catch a glance out the back door of the kitchen, when someone opens it to toss out the cardboard boxes, and I see the blue sky above the tree line, sometimes peppered with fleecy cloud, but there isn’t an urge to drop what I’m doing and step out into the warmth. In fact, when I do go outside at meal time and gaze off over the lake, I have a moment of appreciation for the glorious summer weather, but I shrug it off and head back inside to do what needs to get done.
And no one is more surprised by this than I am. I’ve discovered a great deal about myself in the past two months at this job. Where I used to think that I could never spend another summer indoors, chained to a time clock, slogging through task after task, what I never realized before is that when you’re deep in a profession that you feel you were created to do, the hours slip away and the rest of the world ceases to matter until the day is done. If I struggled before to get through my work day, it’s because I hated what I was doing. There was no passion involved in the work. I may have been skilled, capable and good at what I was doing for 8 hours a day, but my heart didn’t swell with anticipation each time I stepped up to the plate. I cared enough to do what needed to get done, but it never stirred me. Now I’m being stirred each day, loving what I do and eager to go above and beyond to get done what needs to get done. I’ve discovered what it means to truly, truly love your job. And I’m so grateful for that.
And summertime, the sweetest months in Minnesota, are moving past me at the usual rapid rate and really, I’m fine with it. Still, the time that I do have to enjoy the sunshine has been more sweet and appreciated, simply because I know that it’s limited and I need to get out there, even if it means just taking a walk through my garden. In there, the summer is in full swing, strong and vocal and clamoring to be heard. With being so busy, I find myself living much more in the moment than I have in a very long time. For there’s no fretting about the future these days, there’s no financial stress or concern about wearing ourselves out tugging so hard at life to make it’s ends meet. And while I do know that this will come to an end, I can’t think about that. There’s still so much ahead, so much to learn, to do and to experience and many, many more days of work before it’s time to stop, to rest and to re-focus. For now, it’s nice to just ‘be’
My favorite time in the garden has arrived- it’s Hollyhock time!!
Every year I allow the Hollyhocks to take free range over wherever they decide to grow and am always amply rewarded with towering stalks and gigantic buttons of eye-popping color. These deep red ones on the left are a standard, jutting out against the pale backdrop of the house, offering a rich haven for lazy droning Bumblebees. The lovely pale yellow also come up each year.
This year’s surprise color is this gorgeous pink.
Almost every season brings a new color, one that’s morphed from a previous plant. This pink is so stunning, light and delicate around the edges with deep magenta accents in the center and along a few petals. The first bloom of this took my breath away.
Another surprise color this year is this lovely salmon.
I’ve gotten full on pink flowers in previous years, but this one shows more orange, giving it a nicer and richer color than just plain pink. The stalk of these bloomed so profusely that it fell over after a few days, so thick with blossoms. That’s the one drawback of the Hollyhock. It collapses under the weight of it’s own beauty.
This super delicate pink comes up every year. The center is a lovely rose color.
Here’s another return visitor each summer. The golden petals are set off by a deeper pink center that almost looks orange.
A brighter yellow made an appearance this year too.
And on top of it being prime Hollyhock time, the Echinacea are in bloom
One variety of DayLily managed to bloom this year. The others set their buds, which then dried up. Mysterious, huh? This one of my favorite though. It’s so exotic and beautiful.
The very delicate and lacey Scabiosa have also started blooming.
These lovely flowers, waving from atop a thin but sturdy stem are wholly dependent on sunshine to unravel their frilly petals one at a time. One day I will look and see a few swollen buds, then over a few sunny days, the tiny petals unfurl like tentative sails until they are all gloriously open and blowing in the breeze. I have three Scabiosa plants that should have a variety of colors. So far, all that’s opened has been white, but the others are now blooming and I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised soon.
The Bee Balm has opened it’s thin petals, much to the delight of the roaming Bumblebees.
The Phlox stands tall and proud with deep pink fists of color.
And rounding out the current events in the garden is the ever cheerful and sunny Coreopsis.
The funnest part about the Coreopsis is that the petals sort of resemble duck feet.
Summer is also speaking warmly from the vegetable patch, with tiny tomatoes and peppers, abundant Thyme and Oregano. The wily resident rabbit has been fenced out of foraging on my vegetable plants, and I still see him, gazing wistfully through the barrier at the bounty he can no longer destroy. I don’t mind if he wants to gobble up all the sunflower sprouts, but he won’t be making a salad bar out of my food, thank you.
And another loud exclamation of summer? A sunny morning, complete with fresh cherries in a homemade bowl on faded redwood steps.
I hope your summer is happily bending your ear with it’s tales of sunshine and play, that there’s glorious fruits and vegetables filling your lives and tummies. Any surprises at your end? Please share them so we can all find the joy in this exquisite and fleeting time.
It seems like this past year has put me in contact with a large number of very passionate people; people who love what they do whether it’s their chosen vocation, their family or a particular cause. Being around them is almost addictive. There’s a glow, a determination and a sense of joy in them when they discuss what they love, what drives them and makes them soar. I love seeing it, being around it and sharing in it as well. There’s plenty in my life that I feel strongly about, aspects of it that bring a deep sense of peace to me, that fill me with happiness. I bet you think I’m talking about food, don’t you? Well sort of, but it’s only one area of my life that I’m passionate about. My friend Missy, who writes the blog The Marketing Mama, is sharing her passion and asked for others to chime in and play along. I can’t imagine a better person to share a passionate and engaging conversation with; Missy is one of the amazing women I’ve been blessed to meet and connect with this past year through our blog networking group. She’s got a strong finger on the pulse of life around her, a smile to light up any room and a wicked sense of humor.
So, to join in on her expressions of all things we love and hold dear to us, allow me to share these simple aspects of my life that bring me an immense amount of joy and make my heart swell with gladness. I’m not one to climb to the rooftops to shout out what stirs my heart, and I’m not one to push a cause or a lifestyle or anything so subjective. For me, it’s the little things that make my life perfect.
This year, whether due to the copious rain that has drenched our area or just the maturity of the plants, these Delphinium that are growing in one of my garden beds have simply exploded with blooms. Deep blue and so beautifully shaped, the flowers are stunning and I just can’t get enough of their beauty. I love my flower gardens, and the way that Nature just works itself out in multitudes of color, shape, texture and time. There are days that I walk through my yard and am stunned by what’s going on, not to mention humbled that my hands did this kind of work. It isn’t much, but it’s mine. And it’s one way I can share a god-given gift with others.
Then there’s these guys.
Someday is entirely possible that I will qualify as a crazy cat lady. I am crazy about cats, and these two in particular. Eli, on the left, has been a godsend into our lives. Losing Harmon was the hardest time I’ve gone through in recent memory, and Eli came along just at the right moment, full of love to give and hungry to be loved back. Bustopher is happier with a friend, and our hearts are healing from our loss.
There’s Loveless too.
It’s a perfect sanctuary from the hectic pace of life and I do miss it with all the work I’ve been doing this summer, but recently I spent a blissful nothing type of day there, sitting on the screen porch watching the rain fall on the lake all day long. That may not sound like fun to most, but it was a much needed day off from work, and from life and I needed it like pure oxygen. It’s a place that lives in my very core, that I love beyond description and wish I could bring every single one of you there for a day just to see it and enjoy it.
I’m passionate about my family too, as any Mother would be. Watching my young man grow, mature, change and embrace the life he’s leading is a beautiful thing to see. He has some amazing roads ahead of him to explore and I can’t wait to see where his life’s journey takes him. He’s polite, kind, warm-hearted and generous. He’s funny, corny, silly and smart as a whip. And the boy LOVES his food.
Which brings me, rightly, to what I am most passionate about each waking day of my life. You knew we’d get there, didn’t you? It’s not hard to be passionate about food these days, with the Farmers Markets bursting full of the fresh bounty from the Earth. How can you NOT get excited about fresh strawberries?
Or a delightful poached egg over fresh baby zucchini sauteed with garlic scapes?
But it really goes beyond just the freshness and far beyond what time of year it is, as it’s much more about how your body feels when it’s nurtured with good food. There’s nothing more to it than that. What goes into our bodies has a huge effect on our well-being, our ability to learn at school or to do our jobs properly, to keep us sharp and focused so we can concentrate, to help our immune system be as strong as possible so we can stay healthy to enjoy our lives. I’ve seen enormous change in my own life from the foods that I eat, and notice immediately when I’ve been slipping away from the right path and eating too much junk. If there’s one area of my life that I could talk about all day long, it’s definitely food, diet, cooking and consumption. It’s my blood, my life and what God gave me to give to others.
So what are YOU passionate about?
Missy got a good response to her call about passion. See what my friends say about their own passions!