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life lately, in pictures

May 15th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

Spring time is glorious, isn’t it?

Even those intense spring thunderstorms when the sky turns black and the rain comes in torrents, blocking out everything.

{{photo from the StarTribune website. This is the St Paul Cathedral on May 3rd}}

I so love this time of year, when the air is sweet with growth and flowers bloom in abundance, as it’s just about the best that the Earth has to offer. We’ve had a lot of rain recently, which was desperately needed and it has brought out the greenery in droves. My garden is going crazy with both flowers, and weeds.

What else has been going on??

Griffin turned 18 last month, and graduates next month. Yipes. He applied for a passport for a Missions trip he is taking in August. Big growth for my guy. And lots of good ideas on the horizon. I’m pretty proud of that young man.

I took a day recently and spent it at our lake home, quietly watching the water, reading lazily through magazines and taking in the fresh, warm air. I took a few photos there too.

I discovered a USDA certified organic farm only a few miles from our house. I’m incredibly excited to have such a wonderful resource for good vegetables so close to home. From my first visit, I got zucchini, radish, and tomato plants. Then I made a pizza.

Ok, I made A LOT of pizza. We had a week’s worth of really delicious, crusty, chewy and amazing pizza.

All because I received the new pizza cookbook from Jeffrey Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Super easy pizza dough you make, then store in your fridge, pulling out a ball of it as needed. I did enjoy the results, for the most part.

More garden shots……

Those last two were thrown in merely for the “Awwwwww” factor.


wordless wednesday, july style

July 13th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

“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 

after the rain

June 21st, 2011 | 4 Comments »

“Not only the thirsty seek the water, the water as well seeks the thirsty.”

wordless wednesday, natural style

June 8th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

“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


just a few more months

January 31st, 2011 | 3 Comments »

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

summer speaks

July 6th, 2010 | 6 Comments »

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.

wordless wednesday, june style

June 2nd, 2010 | 7 Comments »

The small things, and life lessons

June 22nd, 2009 | 5 Comments »

My apologies to those who come here for the food. Although, yes, I am mostly about food in my little corner of the blog-world here, there’s a lot more to what nurtures me than the food I cook; hard to believe, I know, but in the snippets of insight you sometimes get to the rest of my existence, there is a great deal more that brings me joy and I just want to share it with you. It’s not overbearing, really. and feel free to click away if you only want to read about food.
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This post is NOT about food or taste, but a glimpse into other areas of my life that offer nourishment to me. Like sight and smell and touch.

That lovely orb of yellow is a Coreopsis, with a happy critter deep in the middle of an examination. It looks like a honey bee- enough reason to rejoice if it is- but I’m not sure. It’s a delightful flower to see, bright and shiny in the morning sun. The petals look like duck feet.

Having a flower garden has been an amazing joy to me. The tiny little plot was here when we bought our house nearly six years ago. I mulch, water, add plants I enjoy and subtract the efforts of the existing plants to sow their seed everywhere,  and I’ve loved every moment of watching it each year as it always has something to show me, and teach me.

This is one recurring surprise in my garden- English Lavender.
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I planted an “Annual” Lavendar plant about three years ago, and every year since it has decided to return and assault my sense of smell with it’s fragrant blossoms and leaves. Just brushing my leg up against it releases it’s amazing odor and the tiny purple flowers last forever. It gently reminds me of the importance of perseverance and fortitude.

And talk about persevering!
22june 004I discovered this little Maple sapling early this Spring growing in the corner underneath our sunroom. This part of our house stands alone from the rest, and has an open area below it that we’ve walled off with a cedar wall. We use the area to store our firewood and miscellaneous equipment that is not in season, and this tiny seed took root and has grown stupendously surviving on what little morning sun it receives and the rain that sweeps into it’s corner. I am hoping it will grow strong enough for me to remove in late summer and plant somewhere in our yard. The presence of such potential for strength and quiet beauty makes me think that there is much more to the idea of  “Grow where you’re planted” than most of us ever consider.

And again, when all else seems to look bleak for one of my plants, nature has a way of surprising me.
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This is one of three Clematis vines that grow on the cedar wall surrounding the space under our sunroom. Clematis grow in several ways; one type grows and blooms on the old growth from previous years, and another will only grow from the roots.  This variety, called ‘Mrs George Jackman’ is one that grows solely from the roots, and in the early spring it burst from the earth as usual, and then I suddenly noticed that all the vine had died. The roots were still firm in the earth so I let it be, and instead allowed the enormous native Columbine to take over the spot. It was a happy day indeed that I spotted among the Columbine flowers several thick Clematis buds and was able to separate out a single stalk of the vine that had grown and survived.

The white blooms are enormous.
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And given its rough start this year, I don’t even mind that it hasn’t caught up in height with it’s cousins that grow alongside.
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Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right? Again, nature shows me that despite circumstances, it doesn’t mean we give up and quit trying. Sometimes it just requires patience, and the right amount of time to reach our potential.

And among all this is a lovely and adorable shaved cat, another source of joy.
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Harmon normally has a very long thick coat and each spring he gets shaved. It makes him more comfortable in the heat and is easier on him in terms of keeping clean. He’s 16 now, and slowing down more each year. He has back issues (yeah, he’s overweight) and some kidney problems and so we do what we can for him. I’ve had him since he was 4 months old, and when I think too long about him leaving this earth, I can hardly stand it. If you’ve never owned a pet, I don’t expect you to understand and it’s OK. He’s a cuddly, snuggly, purring, lovable cat that never fails to crawl into my lap or curl up next to me for a snooze and I love him dearly- almost beyond an ability to express. When he’s shaved like this he feels like rich suede and his big furry feet are adorable. He shows me every day that the best remedies for life are a good nap and spreading the love around, no matter how you may feel.

And so, on the official first full day of Summer, there’s a little bit of the other parts of my life that lift my spirits and ground me in reality. Next time I come back, there’ll be food. I promise.